Because a large portion of my "graduate experience," as no one ever calls it, includes teaching, I will sprinkle in some pedagogical advice, most of which includes running away from these freshmen that are cooler than you ever will be and wondering how in the hell you got this TA gig in the first place.
So that's fun.
Also, just to clarify, this is simply a compilation of
When I first started school here, I was terrified that I was an imposter, and that my lack of intelligence and rhetorical knowledge would be discovered the moment I stepped into a classroom. I thought my acceptance into grad school was some kind of mistake, and I was sure I would never be able to write a coherent sentence ever again.
However. What most people learn at 16 I learn at 23, and I have finally come to the conclusion that everybody else feels the exact same way. We're all saying a bunch of theoretically smart things in class that we like, kinda understand? But not really, and then we all congregate after class and ask "what the fuck just happened? Does anybody know? What even is rhetoric?"
To clarify, we still don't know what rhetoric is. And we're studying it.
Because some of these seasoned academics are so entrenched in theory, us newbies are expected to go along for the ride. As English majors, we're well-versed in the art of bullshitting, so we survive a three hour class in which we have no idea what's going on.
Basically, just as grad school is about studying a subject in-depth and expanding our minds, sometimes it's just about plain ole' BS.
While I still had some anxieties about my ability to bullshit my way to an A, I have recognized a couple odd things about graduate-level grading. First off, anything less than a B is equal to failure of a course. BUT most professors teaching these classes really couldn't give a rat's tushy about grades, and they'll slap on an A for effort. Mostly the point of these assignments is to get students thinking about their own research and publications. In fact, there will sometimes be classes that focus so little on grades, they'll be on a pass-fail system.
Let's all ignore the fact that I haven't even begun to think about research and publications, yes?
Where grading DOES come into play, where it is heavily emphasized, is when it comes time for us to grade student papers.
Yes, I have had to give Cs and Ds. No, I am not a horrible, evil monster.
The thing about grading is that it seems like an incredible--almost honorable, even--power trip. YOU a 23 year old nobody, get to hold the future of young, impressionable minds in your hands. YOU, drunk with power (and vodka) get to decide how worthy these humans are of the sacred writing process.
It's a fun concept for about two weeks. And then you have to grade.
What actually happens, at least to me, is that I feel so invested in my students' lives, I want to give them high marks. I want to see the positives in their writing. If they participate and show a willingness to learn in class, I'm almost desperate to give them an A, and I end up crying on my desk if they've underperformed. One of these things is not true.
But, alas, their work is very rarely A-level, and they will inevitably, fail to apply the concepts I've been spending weeks of class drilling into their sleep-deprived heads.
It's even worse when they panic about their grades. I want so badly to see them succeed, it's almost like I've suddenly adopted 19 children. But like, not in a weird way.
When I give a low grade, it physically exhausts me. Especially if the student shows up to class eager and prepared. Once I assign that grade, I can only stare out the window for 20+ minutes and contemplate if life actually holds any meaning. Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but only slightly.
Speaking of students, they will try to distract you by interrogating you about every single aspect of your life. This is fun for approximately five seconds.
Much of this grading/writing/inability to eat and sleep stress can be combatted by a magical concoction. Somehow, as an undergrad, this might seem forbidden, or too fancy, too...old.
This concoction is wine. And it is beautiful.
|I may or may not be the guilty party here.|
Here's to another two years of insanity.