Tuesday, September 18, 2007

:: To My Students ::

To be read on the first day of classes (Wednesday, September 19th)

Please remember that I am here today because I love you. I love the idea of you. I love the writers you will be by the end of the quarter. I love being the person who helps you transform from the writer you are now to the writer you will be in twelve weeks.

Got it?

Good. Because that said, I want you to know that I really don’t want to be here today. I didn’t want to have my husband take care of my twelve-week old baby this morning so that I could brush my teeth, try to figure out what to wear (none of my pre-pregnant teaching clothes quite fit properly yet, and honestly, who needs teaching clothes? you guys wear pajamas and pants with words emblazoned on their butts), and make my hair look like I didn’t fall asleep while it was still wet.

I didn’t want to spend the hour it takes me to drive 15 miles to school during rush hour and walk half a mile to my building just to stand in line at a copier making 24 copies of a syllabus I didn’t want to write in the first place.

I really didn’t want to leave my 86-day-old baby at home with a sitter (even if I really like the sitter and am very appreciative of her) so that I could read you said syllabus. Can’t you read it on your own? Couldn’t we skip the introduction to the course and get on with the writing? Really, it seems like such a waste of ten dollars an hour (to the sitter) to do all of the normal first-day rigmarole. Forget that I usually enjoy the first day, using it to get you psyched about our class and to get to know you a bit better. Forget that reading you the syllabus is an important step in your agreement to continue taking my course – it’s the first step in your tacit contract to do what it takes to complete my course.

And, hey, students, please be patient with me this quarter. Know that I will be tired some mornings. Know that some mornings I will want to cry. Know that my little boy is at home, probably giggling and rolling over and doing new things and being adorable and that because I am here with you, I am not with him for these milestones.

Know that however late you were up drinking and carousing last night, I was up that late, too, only I was feeding a baby, cleaning up spit up, changing diapers, doing laundry, and trying to get ready for you.

Know that sometimes, even when I said I’d have papers to return, I won’t.

And while we’re at it, how about you do me a favor and cut the crap. That means no cell phones, no text messaging, no surfing the Internet on your laptop while trying to look like you’re diligently taking notes. No excuses. No newspapers in your lap. Come to class prepared and pleasant. If I can do it, you can, too.

Finally, one last thing. A simple request, really. Humor me, okay? When I put a picture of my kid on your assignment prompt, tell me he’s cute. When I tell a story about him, please laugh. I have baby brain – it’s a real medical condition. At least as real as the medical condition you don’t have a note for but that kept you from class for two weeks. It’s not contagious and there’s no harm in just letting it run its course. We’ll all be happier if you just indulge me.

A well-placed question about the kid will earn you brownie points and my great admiration. Just a hint.

Thanks for playing and here’s to a great quarter.


Anne September 18, 2007 at 8:42 AM  

I love it. Let me know if you ever get stuck this quarter and need last-minute help. I'm around and have a very flexible schedule.

Julie Pippert September 18, 2007 at 2:19 PM  

Oh honey...great letter and a big (HUG) for you.

Using My Words

Christina September 19, 2007 at 12:54 PM  

Oh, I hope your first day went well. I'm also back to school, although from the student side of things. I hope your students will be good ones.

Toni September 20, 2007 at 3:33 AM  

Maybe you should make this letter one of your reading assignments. :) Hope your first day of class went well.