My campus office is in the library, right off the big room of tables filled with students doing work. Well, some of them are doing work, and some are just looking for ways to procrastinate. Whenever I am not in class or at a meeting, I can wander around the library and find students to talk to. This is much more fun than actually doing any work. In fourteen years of working in this office, I have never graded a single paper on campus. Not a single one.
Today I talked to three students who spent their Christmas break doing field work in Australia, who had all kinds of funny stories to tell. I talked to Black Curls about his plans for the student group he runs, and his frustrations that school work interferes with the community activism stuff that he loves to do. I talked to several students who work as snowboard instructors; they were eager to give me snowboarding tips and say encouraging things about my valiant attempts to learn the sport.
I brought my new work computer -- my first laptop -- out to show to some students who have the same computer. Smart Violinist went through the system preferences and showed me all kinds of cool things the computer could do. I couldn't get the wireless to work because academic computer had not assigned me a password yet, so Smart Sweet Republican Kid let me steal his identity for the day. Kid Who Goes Barefoot showed me the thing he finds most fascinating about an iBook: when you close it, the little latch automatically starts coming down just before the lid closes. We all spent time kneeling on the floor to look at this phenomenon.
The low point of the day was finding out that the registrar had put me in the dreadful classroom that has fluorescent lights and no windows. My architect students tell me that the room was originally designed as a torture chamber for someone who gets migraines. And the classroom doesn't have a clock in it either, which is horrible for someone like me who tends to always go over time. I told the students that they had permission to remind me when class was over, but we all got caught up in discussion and no one noticed the time until my next class started milling about outside the door.
Despite the dreadful classroom, it felt good to be back. My students were talkative and ready to engage the subject matter. Most of them are former students so I already knew their names. We talked about the way I designed the course, and most of them liked my plans. Or pretended to, anyhow. They loved the idea of poetry Fridays. Well, maybe they were just humoring me, but they promised that yes, they plan to stay home on Thursday nights and read poetry instead of going out drinking. Most of them had already bought the books for the course -- and seemed enthusiastic about what we would be reading -- and one woman had already read some of the selections. It's going to be a good semester.