Week 1 of Grad School and Teaching WR121

Week 1 of 10 done so that means I only have to do this 9 more times before getting a 3 week break and doing it again. Excluding a micro-meltdown on Tuesday, so far I have had a great experience thanks to my faculty, peers and students. So far I’ve spent an alarming amount of time in my office, trying to stay ahead of my reading and avoiding the perils of my apartment where Netflix and my bed reside.

What do I have to show for it so far? Well, I’m on top of my readings for the most part and not even the normal type of reading I do where I just skim through pages, but reading with notes and “Fuck yeahs’ and “hell no’s” scribbled in the margins of rhetorical theory articles. I do enjoy the readings much more than I originally anticipated and feel glad that I have to work hard to keep up with my work or risks failure, which is the mind frame in which I work best and definitely worries me.

Tuesday’s meltdown was due to my concern that I had made a bad move by pursuing an MA in rhetoric. My intention going into the program was to equip myself with knowledge and skills necessary to assists in the formulation of better educational policy in Belize. Although that may sound lofty, I really need to have those goals in mind in order to push myself through some of the more tedious aspects of teaching so far (grading and lesson planning) and scholarship (reading through Chaucer’s “The Squire’s Tale” for the first time after successfully avoiding Canterbury Tales during five years as an English major).

The notion I’m finding most troubling today is how much I want my students to succeed. Trouble is, I don’t know what I should be doing to help them achieve their goals. Some rhetorical theory I read less than an hour ago has me conflicted on what my intention in the classroom should be. There are some scholars who say we’re teaching writing, while implicitly (through the assigned texts) also giving the impression that there is some type of moral and civic code we’re instilling in students. I want my students to be better people, but I don’t think it’s on me to do that.

Additionally, I fear that I’m going to invest way too much time into my teaching not due to anyone’s insistence, but because I want to do it well. While I wouldn’t mind dedicating thirty or more hours a week to improving my methods and planning my classes, I feel like a dope for doing so when my checks are so meager and feeling being taken for a fool by whoever determines my pay, which is provided under the fantastic euphemism-stipend. I want to teach well, but I don’t want my resolve to dissipate as a result of being forced to take out of my paltry savings to merely survive.

While grading my first batch of assignments my student’s reflections on their own learning experiences immediately cured me of this fear, at least momentarily, because it made me want to do my part in making their investment of time and money at the university worthwhile. Just because I’m losing out financially doesn’t make it fair for them to lose out on having a well-organized and thought out class. We’ll see how it goes.

In other news, MA party tonight.

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