Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Official Start of My Spring Academic Career

Today was the first day of classes at Duke, and the official start of my semester as scholar-in-residence in the English Department there.

My first class isn't until Friday: intro to writing fiction, 2.5 hours meeting once a week.

However, I have already taken possession of my 2 classrooms, half an office, and a location in Duke's piece of cyberspace, on which I have just posted a syllabus. I have also received the much-needed advice of the department's computer expert. I hope I teach my students as kindly and effectively as my computer advisor has been teaching me.

What I'm most accustomed to is working with writers privately, in groups and one-to-one. I now feel as if I'm setting sail on something gigantic.

So you feel free to SEND HAPPY-SEMESTER VIBES to me and the 30 undergraduates who are traveling with me these next four months.

9 comments:

Sarah Blackmon said...

What a big week, Peggy! The model search (!), a birthday, and the first week of academia (at this end). Wishing you all the best-- your boldness certainly does inspire.

Peggy said...

Thanks, Sarah. I appreciate your good wishes.

Some of these items seemed bolder than others. Turning 58 was a breeze.

amey said...

Here's advice from my very practiced teacher brother in law when I embarked on teaching Russian, a job I was was way much less suited for than you are to teach fiction: "If you treat your students respectfully, you can't really harm them." He also said with very uncharacteristic modesty, so it meant a lot, "some of my classes were outright failures" (then it may have segued into the first bit of advice). I know you are rightly bold and beautiful, and not thinking in such negative pessimist ways, but such advice does help to guard against overly flagelleting yourself when things get a bit slippery.

Peggy said...

Lovely advice, Amey. I expect you're quite a good teacher of Russian.

I just now finished my first class; I think it went pretty well. It was somewhat complicated by the fact that the time was listed at 1:15 in one place and 1:30 in another. So people arrived at different times. It worked out though.

I get pretty nervous in advance of things, but then when the event is underway something going wrong doesn't seem as bad as I would have imagined.

One of my all-day workshops that I sometimes teach at my house was in winter, and the furnace suddenly wasn't working right. Every blanket, quilt, and bedspread in the house was needed to keep the class warm. They bundled up in groups of two and three under their covers. It was certainly an ice-breaker. I still hear stories about that. If I'd known in advance what was going to happen, I'd have been a wreck, but it was actually kind of fun as it unfolded.

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