On Campus
Jul 29, 2013, 07:18AM

Teaching: It’s All About the Glasses

But it’s probably supposed to be more about the classes.

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After landing a bunch of speaking gigs at conferences over the last few years, it’s come to pass that I'm teaching my first class this fall at a literary think tank in DC called The Writers Center. I'm teaching two online classes in blogging and social media (beginner and intermediate) and one course in the classroom on writing for print versus web.

I'm freaking out a little. I'm not sure how you prepare for something like this. So I started in the obvious way: by buying really cool new professor-y glasses (no, that's not me in the photo. I wish!). My actual vision is 20/600 (legally blind), so it's not like I went to Walgreens and bought cute flowery reading glasses to make me look smarter. My new bomb-ass Jones New York tortoise shell frames should at least make me look semi-legit.

I’m aware this is actual teaching and not my first porn movie, so I swear I haven't been fantasizing about the cleavagey blouses, tight short skirts and high heels I will wear to class, glasses on end of nose, fire red lipstick, hair up in bun with a few loose strands hanging down... I have a goal of one day teaching at a certain turtle-related state university, so I guess I'd better choose outfits that are a bit more conservative, like boring shit from Ann Taylor.

In addition to my wardrobe, I'm nervous about my classes. What if the students all have completely different experience levels? What if they hate me? And the most important question of all: can we play 7-up? That was my favorite classroom game growing up. I think the nuns did it just to keep us quiet. Ooh! A nun outfit! How much fun would that be to seriously wear a nun habit—my mom didn’t name me Mary Theresa for nothing!—and pretend to be a nun for the whole entire time. All I’d need is to cut my hair really short, wear some sensible brown ugly shoes, and I would exactly like the lesbian-esque nuns I had when I was a kid.

Perhaps I will teach my class how to diagram sentences. I don’t care that diagramming sentences has absolutely nothing to do with social media because that ‘s not my fault. Diagramming sentences is fucking fun and totally underrated and should not have been eliminated from classroom curriculum. Just because I was the only kid in Sister Nancy's class who liked it doesn't mean I can't share that enthusiasm with another generation.

Which reminds me of another reason I'm scared of teaching. The students. I don't know if they will be old or young, cool or dickheads, funny or boring. What if it's a room full of overly entitled hipsters who play on their phones the whole time? I've been a mom for nearly 20 years. It will kick in! I will confiscate their shit and put their asses in time out in the corner! Except the online students. They’ll have to go to an Internet corner, which would be like MySpace or something. If the student people are old and don’t know anything about the Internet, I can’t see how I will be able to teach them anything because I can’t remember not having the Internet. The main challenge I see is this: what if they actually want to learn something?

I really need to work on my class materials. For instance, classes are two and a half hours each and right now I have zero hours planned for each one. And there are eight classes total. I mean, I should try to teach them something for like an hour before we start having Internet Easter Egg treasure hunts and moving into the “advanced Candy Crush” portion of the class and whatnot.

Whatever happens, I know for sure I'm going to make them clap the erasers. I had to do that back in Catholic school, and it builds character as much as diagramming sentences... or cool professor glasses.


Mary McCarthy (@marymac) blogs at Pajamas and Coffee.



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