I’m sitting at my desk at home, in the privacy of my own surroundings, and yet … my hands are shaking and my breathing is shallow. I have several Word documents open in front of me, and I’m petrified of making a mistake.
I’m writing syllabi and lesson plans.
It’s my first semester as a faculty member, and I’m so worried about getting it right. I was fortunate that, as a grad student, I was allowed to be the instructor of record on my courses, and to create my own lesson plans - for some courses, I was able to develop them from the ground up. So this isn’t an entirely new experience - choosing a text, creating activities and exams - I’ve done it before.
I know from experience that I won’t get it perfect the first time. Some days on the schedule will be too heavy, others too light. I’ll miss things. Some discussions will flounder, some activities will go down with a resounding “thud.” I’ll think of a perfect reading or activity after a class is over, and make a note to include it the next time around. When I teach the class again, there will be tweaks and revisions.
I’m reminding myself that things are always “clunky” the first time through a new course. This time, it’s doubly scary to be at a new institution, in unfamiliar classrooms and surroundings. Everything is new, including the textbooks I’m working from.
It’s time to take a deep breath, and give myself permission to make mistakes. I’ve done this before, and I know I’m a good teacher. I also know that it’s going to be a bumpy ride, with some missteps along the way, and I just need to accept that. Maybe even embrace it.
If I see the course as a work in process, and an experience that will unfold over the semester, perhaps I’ll be able to stop my hands from shaking. This is a big responsibility, but I’m up to the challenge. It’s not my first rodeo.