There’s a full house today for the midterm–halfway through the quarter, how time flies-but a couple students are missing. One girl who sits in the back, slipped out of the classroom about 5 minutes in, and then slipped back. I wondered what that was about, and then I realized her friend, her table partner, was among the missing. I want to ask if she called her friend, and if he is coming, but I don’t want to interrupt her exam.
8:10 on a Monday morning and 75 mostly dark heads are bent over their bluebooks. It’s not innovative. We’re not doing projects. They’re thinking about the texts we’ve discussed and, I hope, synthesizing what they’ve learned. They seem to be okay with it. These students in this place taking this course are comfortable with this. I’m not sure if I am or not. I’m teaching the way I learn, and chances are, as upper division English/Theater/Creative Writing majors at my alma mater, these students are as much like me as anyone, so it’s probably not terrible. But it would be fun to throw in a project. I like “authentic assessment” and “hands on” learning. I used it when I taught high school; I always do some of it in comp classes. Now I’m getting to teach the thing I know best, the thing I think has depth and richness, and I don’t want to mess around. I just want to read the Bard’s words and talk about them. And maybe that’s not so bad.
There is a ritual at the end of the exam. As students finish, I walk toward them, and they hand me the exam and say thank you. I glance down at their name written on the cover, look them in the eye, and say thank you to them. With a class of around 80, it’s one of the few times I match face to name. I’m not sure what we are thanking one another for, “Thank you for receiving my exam,” “Thank you for handing it to me,” but it is an acknowledgement, and it is good.