Friday, August 16, 2013

TA Orientation and (almost) the First Day of School

I had an epic fail today. I'd spent all week in TA orientation, so had decided to skip this morning's Graduate School Introductions in order to get settled in my office. It was a crap day from the start-
  • my key doesn't work
  • the lock shop, which could fix/replace my key is closed on Fridays
  • turns out that my office has three desks, and four people share it
  • The stuff I wanted to put up, I left at home, in my TA folder that I took out this morning, trying to lighten my load
 So, I was in my office for a grand total of one hour before heading home in defeat.
 So, today was not so great.

The week was, well, a week of orientation. No one likes meetings. No one especially likes meetings that aren't divided by skill level. However, I was excited to see an old professor, who is teaching a class on folklore and horror that I'm going to try and sit in on since that's the type of course I hope to teach myself, and I want to see how he does it. It was also nice to meet most of my professors, and the Rhet/Comp guys are all nice, and very helpful.
I got one snarky comment about how I shouldn't have let people know I was a tech geek, to which I calmly responded that I didn't mind helping people. One person was short with me and hurt my feelings, and one person was nasty about me having my work done. I say law of averages, that in a week of meeting 100+ new people, three negative experiences still put me on the plus side.
I didn't get to meet my Old Norse professor, because she's emeritus, or the professor I'm already eyeing for chair of my thesis committee (she wasn't there this week).

Faculty stalking will come later in the week I guess.

My biggest thing is that I want to get going. I want to get started with teaching, and my classes, and figure it all out from there. Because even though my first six weeks are planned out (ENG 101 runs on a pre-scripted first unit) and even though my first week's lessons are finished, and my Blackboard shell is up and running, those are all treading water things. Valuable for keeping you afloat, but not really exciting.

I do have to say that part of my anxiety about this is that I don't do well without my routines, and right now, I don't know what my daily and weekly routines are, so that makes me anxious. Perfect example- it took everything in my power today not to have a meltdown about that stupid door sign. And then, when I came home to work, I realized that switching to a planner different than the one I've used for over a decade was making me nuts. The one I always use is Jim Burke's Teacher Day Planner, which has everything- planning space and a yearly calendar (which runs August to July, so handy). I originally went with a separate ward planner, and At-A-Glance calendar  because I thought the Burke planner would label me as too high school (already got the vibe that I should shut up about my teaching experience).
But as I sat at my desk at home this afternoon, trying to label with Post-Its, and color code, shuffling between different things, I realized that I just couldn't make it work. So I gave in and ordered the Burke. And paid extra money to get it here as soon as possible.
I know that seems like a silly, trivial thing, but it is the collection of all of those silly things that help me create a protective shell. I am nigh on bullet proof if I have my organizer, and color coded Post-Its. But without? I can't process new information, I forget things, I feel tense, and anxious.

I'm looking forward to my first day of class, and definitely looking forward to being able to plan my own lessons, although I certainly understand why they require new TAs to teach the same thing for six weeks.
So far, I'm excited about the accessibility of the staff, and the office staff has all been great. I've learned my way about campus, and things are starting to look familiar.
I guess too, after so many years of workings TOWARDS this, I just want to go ahead and get started. Because once I start, it's just a long check list of things to do to earn my PhD and get out and get a job. And I want to start feeling like I'm making progress.

So, I'm going to take a deep breath, embrace the routines I have (trying not to clutch them to my chest like Duckie), and figure it out.

To my anxiety I say:

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