first day jitters

(Where does the phrase “first day jitters” come from, actually? It seems inextricably linked with the first day of school.)

So, classes start tomorrow. I think I’m ready, though there’s never been a quarter where I’ve felt 100% prepared for a class. This week I’ve been immersing myself in readings and videos and activities related to both technology planning and technology implementation (we call the classes “needs assessment” and “tech transfer,” but they’re really about figuring out what technologies you need, and then determining how best to implement them). Up until yesterday, I still hadn’t quite felt like I had the contours of the classes solid in my mind. Then I had an idea that I wish I’d thought of weeks ago–I posted to Facebook, tagging a bunch of people who’d graduated from the IT degree program, and asked them what they remembered (and valued) from the two classes. What I got back was incredibly helpful, because it allowed me to focus in on the aspects that they’d found useful in their various careers. Beyond that, many suggested things that they wished had been included, or that they thought had changed since they took the class. So last night I was up late reorganizing and restructuring, and when I woke up this morning it really felt as though it had all gelled in a way that made sense.

It’s not entirely clear to me yet how many students I’m going to have in my classes; the student information system tells me there are 10 in my Needs Assessment class and 7 in Tech Transfer, but the ACMT advisor told me back in January that there would be 26 in Needs Assessment and 17 in Tech Transfer. I’m not sure if the discrepancy is because students enroll in classes at the last minute, or that due to semester conversion some aren’t going to be taking the classes at all (both classes are being phased out in semesters). Teaching a class to 7 or 10 is quite different from teaching to 17 or 26, so I’m a little hesitant to lock down some of ideas for in-class activities and group assignments until I know what I really have to work with.

I had hoped to practice a bit with pronouncing my students’ names, too, but it appears that RIT’s student information system doesn’t store diacritical marks, which makes it essentially impossible to know how most of the names are pronounced. The Croatian language has three different versions of the letter c; an unaccented c that’s pronounced “ts,” a č, which is pronounced like the “tch” in “future”, and a ć, which is pronounced like the “ch” in “chair”. (There are also variations on d, s, and z…a Google search on “Croatian pronunciation will yield a variety of guides, which aren’t always very helpful.) Since all of my students appear to have the letter c in their names multiple times, there’s no way for me know how their names are pronounced until I meet them!

By mid-afternoon today I’d managed to finish the syllabus for my Mon-Wed class, and make a very solid start on the Tues-Thurs class. So then I turned my attention to shorter-term issues–namely, that I’d invited all my Rochester ex-pat colleagues (and Sebastian) over for dinner, and had promised homemade meatballs! I made a double batch, one with cheese and one without, and ended up serving the version with cheese because they were particularly delicious (the others are good, too, and they’re in the fridge for eating this week). By 5:30, when the sun was doing its glorious descent into the Adriatic, my apartment was full of people and food and wine. And just as when our village gathers in Rochester, we ended up with everybody well-fed *and* more food in the house when they’d all left than when they arrived. I’ve got cake and cookies, bread and cheese and caprese salad, and the same amount of wine as I began with despite our having polished several off during dinner! I’m more full than I’ve been since I arrived in Dubrovnik, so tomorrow will definitely need to start with a workout.

And on that note, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow’s going to be a busy day!

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