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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chocolate espresso beans

Eager to get started with my new class, I struck out a bit earlier from my apartment hoping I wouldn't have to hassle getting the door opened for my marathon Saturday class which runs 2-5 and 6-9.

What a surprise! At 1:30 p.m. I walked into classroom #811 and the door was not only open, but the computer and overhead were running and 12 of my 122 students greeted me, including Jackson, the student who had met me at the airport Thursday evening. He had arrived early to ensure all was prepared. Another brownie point for him!

Figuring I had it made, I started to download my two PowerPoint presentations to the PC. My memory stick decided this was the perfect time to fail me. Fortunately, at the last minute, I packed my laptop in my backpack. However, the events that unfolded after this I can only describe as technology hell.

At 2:25 I finally started class, or should I say stopped the cacophony of over 100 enthusiastic teenaged voices bouncing off the cement floor and low ceiling. Originally I was to have 133, but the tally is down since 11 have gone overseas for the semester. Those eager faces—well, most of them were—represented five cohorts pulled together with majors ranging from MIS to Business Management.

We worked through our first three hour block of time together—it was a great pay off to have them laugh at the appropriate times as my International Marketing class had done in December—and with the help of my TA, Jessie, we managed to get them into 25 groups. At 5:00 I broke the class for dinner. Learning from my previous experience there was a good chance my students might want to talk with me during that time, I had wisely packed a power bar, fruit drink and chocolate covered espresso beans as dinner.

I was right. After the last student disappeared I sat down for five minutes to consume my power bar and the trickle of students with questions began. I was up on my feet again answering questions which included: what did I have for lunch, why did I talk about the 4Ps, how does PR relate to business, why must they take PR, what did this word mean, why did they have to read so many chapters when it took three hours to read one chapter since there are so many unfamiliar words, why didn't I leave the classroom for dinner, etc. Eager faces. Inquisitive minds. Energizing conversations.

Before I knew it, it was 6:00 and time to start class again. The next three hours flew by as I applied two new techniques for large class activities Lorraine had suggested to me back in December. During this time I actually had three students volunteer to provide answers to questions I had them discuss in their groups. And, all three were insightful to the questions. Very cool. As 9:00 drew near I brought the class to its end and although I knew from the feedback, questions, faces most of them had enjoyed the class and learned something, there's just something about an open door at 8:50 p.m. after having class for 6 hours that makes everyone leave in a hurry.

Jessie, my TA, lingered and we talked about our meeting on Monday (more later on that!). And then I noticed Jackson was still there. He planned on escorting me to my apartment. Very cute. As we walked and he practiced his English with me, it became clear to me he wanted to discuss some issues that were concerning him. All I can say about our conversation is this: amazing. As we reached the door he asked if we could do this each evening after class and I said "absolutely." He departed with a huge smile on his face.

Exhausted, but knowing Lorraine and Bob were waiting for me to bang on their door to debrief them about my first class I gained a bit of energy with our discussion. By 10:15 I announced my near comatose state and slowly dragged myself up the remaining two flights of stairs.

Opening my apartment door I sighed. Adrenalin drained. The bottoms of my feet screamed. My body ached. My memory couldn't find when I had felt this physically and mentally spent. I collapsed into bed expecting to fall asleep instantly.

It's then the chocolate covered espresso beans I'd eaten decided to kick in.


At 5:26 PM, Skip said...

Well, a difficult nite to sleep on Saturday for both you and Cody. Off to a good start Number One Professor! Skip


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