I survived my first day of professor-ship. And it felt good. Not a single butterfly. And class ended half an hour early, because, really, I’m nothing if not brief, and after all, brevity is the soul of wit. I wore glasses and my new stone-colored blazer that we practically stole from Banana Republic (and by “we” I mean momma-bear and myself, because she loves me and came to visit last weekend). And then I came home and napped for an hour, because who can be bothered to go to bed at a reasonable hour when Sean and Catherine were getting married.
Teaching at CCBC is different and challenging for me in a whole lot of ways. I’ve never had to project my voice for an hour and fifteen minutes straight. I’ve also never taught students who weren’t overly privileged. Wofford and UVa have a lot in common in the way of trust funds. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the first time I stepped foot on a community college campus was for my interview.
What I’m most surprised by is that I already love my students. In my classroom today, I saw a variety of faces, young and old, all looking to me to learn the fundamentals of chemistry. And I wanted them all to succeed in doing so. Some of them are parents. A handful or two have served our country in the military. Some are looking to find their way. And at least one of them wants to be a cardiologist. And they’re all from different backgrounds, and are underdogs of sorts. A typical 4-year college stint wasn’t in their cards, for whatever reason. Life threw them curveballs, and their resilient selves are still pursuing higher education. I don’t pretend to know their stories, but I do know that they’re in my class because of a desire to learn something and to be someone. My heart wants to gather them all up and walk them through this semester, bending over backwards to make accommodations and to just get them interested in science. And honestly, that’s surprising. Just a week ago I was touting the benefits of hard love, unbending expectations, and equal treatment for all students regardless of situation. Basically, being a hard ass. And already today I’ve promised to let a student from my EF1 section take a quiz with the EC1 section, because, her father’s retirement party, that’s why. And one guy is going away for his birthday weekend in March and needs to take exam 2 early. Well of course, and happy early birthday!
I’m rooting for these students hard. And really, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised at all. I’ve always loved an underdog.