Monday, November 7, 2011

Note to Self

1. If you run out of milk in the morning, remember that Coke is not a good substitute. If you drink too much soda before 8 A.M., you may end up trying to climb the walls of your classroom. And then your students will really think you're weird.

2. Do not stay up late watching reruns of crime dramas. If you do, you may end up blurting out lines from the episodes during class. Then your students may or may not become alarmed when you suddenly start yelling, "'Facebook made me do it' is not a suitable defense!" and "Put your hands in the air! You're under arrest!"

3. Get all of your students' cell phone numbers. That way, when they start texting in class (five minutes AFTER you told them to put their phones AWAY), you can send them messages that say stuff like, "HEY! All eyes on ME!" or "If you want to see your iPod again, you'll do what I say."

4. When the students ask why they're watching a movie in class, tell them that the film provides context for what they're studying, or that watching the film version will help them better understand the novel that they're reading. Don't tell them it's because you accidentally left your lesson plan at home and the only thing in your bookbag is a notebook filled with doodles of smashed cell phones.

5. When the undergrads start packing up their bags and getting up to leave BEFORE you've dismissed the class, resist the urge to give them an extra assignment: read Snooki's novel and watch a Jersey Shore marathon of Seasons 1-4. (On the other hand, they may or may not become too terrified to ever disrespect you again if you make them do this assignment. Or they might just start fist-pumping in class.)

6. Since several people don't bother to bring their books to class on a regular basis (yet always remember to bring their cell phones, iPods, and snacks), make them spend the whole hour writing "I will stop making my teacher freak out" at least one hundred times in their notebooks.

7. During your office hours, let your classes know that you're available to meet with them. But keep your office door closed. That way, if any of your fellow instructors happen to walk by, they won't know that you're not grading papers or making lesson plans; you're (gasp!) reading books without footnotes in them.

8. When your department says that all the instructors have to attend ANOTHER mandatory workshop on teaching, even though you started teaching at that school before your hair started turning white, resist the urge to blurt out what you're really thinking during the workshop. That is, don't say stuff like, "It's because of these workshops that I've started having nightmares about thesis statements," and "You can take away my favorite textbooks, but you'll never take my FREEDOM!"

9. When some of the undergrads e-mail you to complain about their grades, don't say, "You know what else isn't fair? The fact that I'm going to have to wait at least one or two more years before Britney releases another album. But you don't see me complaining about it, do you?"

10. When your students keep asking you to set up extra appointments outside of your office hours, which means that you have to come to campus on your days off, make time to help them. But learn to say no when it's necessary. Don't fidget during the meetings and say, "I'm missing Law and Order right now," or "I think my grandmother just got sick. Would you excuse me?" and then run away before anyone can stop you.

What kinds of notes do you make to yourself when you're at work or when you're going about your dailies? What's a typical workday like for you?


  1. I'm all for corporal punishment, but Forced Snooki Book Reading is going too far.

  2. I've done the first two no-no's way too many times!

  3. Hi Elizabeth,
    Oh, I don't know. :) It might make them appreciate the good writers even more, like Hemingway and Steinbeck, because they'll be able to contrast Snooki's book with the kind of writing that inspires people.

    Hi Karen,
    If I could figure out a way to put Coke in my cereal and make it taste good, I would.

  4. Do you ever have nightmares about those crime shows? Ion (the only non-network channel we get with our $8 a month cable package) shows a million* episodes of Criminal Minds every night and I am incapable of turning it off even though I dream about body parts and cannibals after I watch them...I think I need some help weaning myself off CM.

    *May be exaggerated for effect.

  5. Hahahah I especially like #4, though I had mistakenly thought that they did this to catch up on napping. My notes to self mostly consist of "DON'T YELL AT USELESS COWORKER. DON'T THROW STAPLERS AT USELESS COWORKER." (Actually, I just wrote about my job on Friday -

  6. Note to self: resist the urge to play zombie warrior in the middle of class. Though they may seem zombie-like, resist the urge to incapacitate their cerebral cortex. The excessive amounts of booze they're drinking on the weekend is doing that for you.

  7. Hi NGS,
    I haven't had any nightmares about Criminal Minds, but occasionally I'll dream that I'm in the room when they're giving one of their "profiles". I like that show because of how they analyze people's personalities. And $8 a month for cable? I wish I had that.

    Hi Gia,
    I'd probably get in trouble if I started throwing things. But sometimes I have caught students sleeping during movies.

    Hi Anna,
    I've noticed that a lot of students drink Gatorade and other sports drinks in class. You'd think that would make them more energetic in class, but it usually doesn't.

  8. Ha! Who would have thought being a teacher would entail so many rules? And I think it's appropriate to ditch a meeting with a student to watch Law & Order. Totally acceptable!

  9. You read books without footnotes? For shame!

    It's amazing what goes through our head when teaching. So much is improvised. Did I ever tell you I had a history professor who showed us movies all the time? Apparently, he was "teaching" a film class at the SAME TIME. Go in to one room, give an intro, start the movie, go to the other room and repeat process. Brilliant. 'Til he got caught.

    Imagine teaching 2 classes at once where they're watching a movie? Think of all the books without footnotes you can read.

  10. Love this list. But especially #3 and 7!! And number 8. Brilliant!

  11. Hi E.R. King,
    I wish I could had Tivo so that I wouldn't have to miss my beloved Law and Order episodes, but the thing about being a teacher is that I'm too broke for Tivo, sighhh...

    Hi Theresa,
    Wow, I wonder what that professor's boss said to him when he got caught. I bet the students got tired of the films after a while, especially since they paid tuition to take those classes. I do wish I had more time to read books without footnotes, though.

    Hi Deniz,
    Thanks! I wish I could say that kind of thing during workshops. Then maybe they wouldn't make me go to those things anymore.

  12. lol, I love number 4 (I think the kids would too).

  13. Hi Lynda,
    You're right in that the students would love to watch more movies in class. I doubt they'd like the movies from my collection, though; I favor romantic comedies, which would probably make the guys in my class say that they'd rather sit through one of my lectures.

  14. The only reoccurring note I write to myself is

    --Don't talk to strangers.--which I always forget

    and perhaps, dont volunteer for more work when you already work 80 hours a week.

  15. Hi Sara,
    I don't like to volunteer for more work either, which is why I don't always say yes when my students try to get me to come to campus on my days off. The problem is that I have my own work to do, including my second job and my dissertation, so it's just not possible for me to help them every time.