I have stage-fright. Teaching starts today, you see. I have stage-fright far worse than when I present a paper in front of a few hundred people at a conference, even though I taught all last semester, and loved it, and the stuff I’m planning on doing today is based on a recipe I’ve used three or four times before with various groups of students. I’m convinced that only two students will turn up and this will prove the basic untenability of my future career in academia.

Yes, I know. Calm down.

There are twelve students tentatively enrolled in the LMS, so far. They have names I can’t connect with faces: Paul, Kevin, Vidar, Maj. I wish students had orientation meetings for their lecturers. “Hi, I’m Paul (or Kevin or Vidar or Maj) and my goals as a student are X, Y and Z. I’m going to be in your course and in yours too.” I suppose that’s part of what we’re doing today, actually.

I know that once I know the group I’ll be fine, and love teaching again like I did last semester. But (this is to you experienced teachers out there) do teachers feel this scared at the start of every semester?

I’m all aglow. Teaching starts today, you see. I feel that same excitement that I feel at conferences, that thrill at meeting new thoughts and approaches to the world. I taught all last semester, and loved it, and the stuff I’m planning on doing today has worked well before and I love the texts we’ll be talking about. Do you know, I’ve been astounded at how I enjoy teaching. I like research too, but teaching is for me a real reason to stay in academia.

Yes, I know. Such enthusiasm can’t last, they say.

There are twelve students tentatively enrolled in the LMS, so far. I can’t connect their names with faces but I’ve heard names like these before, reassuring me that soon I’ll know their owners: Paul, Kevin, Vidar, Maj. I wonder whether many of them know each other?

I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and their thoughts and finding out their interests and methods.

[My feelings are as separate and simultaneous as two columns]

7 thoughts on “stage-fright / glow

  1. jon

    It’s healthy to feel something. It reflects how important it is to you. It gets easier as you collect more experience, but I always feel that buzz of nerves/pleasure. These days I can get thrown into a class on Novel X to cover for someone at the last minute and it barely ups my pulse.

    We’re kicking off this week in Stockholm too. I am not so worried abou the teaching but the amount of work I have to balance and the massive influx of emails I’ll be getting.
    It’s like students don’t talk to you anymore: they just mail you –constantly. E.g. I had 8 over the weekend and one student even mailed me this morning (Monday) to ask why I hadn’t replied.

    All the best Jill !

  2. John G

    In answer to your question, I feel nervous (and excited) before each class!

    I like the way you separated the columns. It’s great to notice that both feelings (and more!) are going on at the same time.

  3. lisa

    Love the two columns. A bit belated, but have a great beginning!

  4. Dennis G. Jerz

    My classes don’t start for a week, but your columns perfectly capture my emotions. I do think back to my high school and undergrad theater days, when I was backstage just before the curtain went up, and I had to think of ways to channel that nervous energy. Looks like you found a great way.

  5. Jill

    Yes, Dennis, writing it out helped a lot – especially once I recognised all the positive emotions too and let the two stand side by side…

  6. Liz

    What a great post, Jill. Thanks. And I can speak for all teachers everywhere, but I share many of the feelings you listed at the beginning of each quarter.

    My fears revolve less around “what if nobody shows up” and more around “what if they all discover that I’m a sham, that I’m not nearly as omniscient as they believe me to be,” but the resulting stagefright is the same.

    We don’t start ’til September 8, so I’ve got some time to savor the dance of the butterflies in my stomach. 🙂

  7. Norman

    FDR wasn’t 100% correct with his famous words to the effect that, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”. On the other hand, Jill, It’s an amazingly useful motto to keep in mind with any public presentation, and one I’m sure you’ll be applying increasingly in the future.

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