–One of my students in class today, after I mentioned the facebook group I created for my students: “I love having a younger teacher who knows how things work. Some other profs just look at the computer and get stressed.” HA.  

–One of my other students, on coming to class: “I love this class. I look forward to coming it to every week.” (Bless her!)  

–One of my other students, commenting on another student’s request that she be allowed to bring her son to class (I said no because no work would get done): “Well, maybe she could bring him on a day when we don’t do anything important.” Oh okay, so that would be never, then!  

–Finally, my favorite: “Mrs. Mount, do you know what grinding is? Like the dance style?”  

Oh, the things they say! And this was only one class.

It’s List Time!

1. Today I feel like a terrible teacher. I have a class that is a bit unruly, and it’s been a challenge for me. I’m quite fond of having people like me, and so I feel very uncomfortable when I have to be stern in class because I worry about the students hating me. Stephen keeps reminding me that my job is to teach them, not be their friend, but it’s really hard for me. Am I completely crazy?

2. I originally titled this “Fun with Bullets,” but then realized I was numbering each item. Oops. I wonder how bullets got their name (I’m talking about the typographical symbol, not ammunition). Are the typed bullets called so because of their round shape? Because they’re often used to make quick points, so it’s like the speed of a bullet? (Yeah, probably not.)

3. iTunes 8 has a new feature called Genius, and it truly is genius. It works kind of like Pandora. You select a song in your library, click on the “Genius” icon, and then it searches your library for songs that complement the one you picked. I’ve tried it with a Fiona Apple song, a Jason Mraz song, a Bethany Dillon song, and a Natasha Bedingfield song, and I have LOVED each playlist iTunes generated! Definitely give it a try; I rediscovered a lot of songs this way.

4. I have received my first batch of papers. Guess what I’m doing this weekend?

5. There are four weeks until my birthday! In case you don’t know, I LOVE celebrating my birthday. I love making a big deal out of it, and I always have. When I have kids, I am going to make a big deal out of their birthdays. Stephen couldn’t care less about his birthday and doesn’t like big deals made about him in general (I married such a humble guy), so I look forward to forcing my children to make big deals out of their days of birth.

6. Yesterday was National Punctuation Day. I feel that not realizing this is a personal failure on my part. To read one example of how one incorrectly used comma can cost millions of dollars, read this article.

7. My favorite punctuation is the semicolon; it’s super.

8. Once again, alot is NOT a word! And your=possession (e.g., your coat), you’re=you are (e.g., “you’re silly). Why is that so hard for people to get??

9. Every time I see GG used to reference the CW show Gossip Girl, I want to hurl something at the computer. Everyone knows the original GG is Gilmore Girls, thank you very much! (And don’t tell me the original GG is really Golden Girls. Let’s be serious.)

10. I don’t really have a tenth thing, but I can’t end with an odd number, unless it’s divisible by 5. Weird, huh?

First Days

Ever since I first entered kindergarten, I have adored the first day of school.  Other children, my brother included, screamed and cried and clung to their mom’s skirts, despairing at thought of having to enter that classroom, but me?  I happily waved to mom and skipped jauntily into the classroom, eager to conquer the kindergarten arena.  I loved seeing all of the desks neatly arranged, the cubby holes ready and waiting to be filled, the decorations on the walls beckoning me closer, and of course, the Play-Doh.  I was hooked.  Each year, the night before the first day of school would come, and I would hardly be able to sleep for the excitement of wondering who would be in my class, where I would sit, what we would learn, what my teacher would be like, and I almost always woke up before I needed to, so anxious was I to start a new school year.  
New school years are new beginnings.  The grades from last year have been replaced with a clean slate (except within my mind, where I still can recall getting my first B in math, in fifth grade no less), the petty fights with friends have been healed by the summer months, and the promises of new experiences, new friends, and new knowledge shimmer in the morning sunlight. 

Now that I am on the other side of the desk, the excitement is still there, but it manifests itself differently.  I look forward to getting all of my office supplies in order: checking to see which pens still glide smoothly over the page and which just scratch and must be discarded; organizing my many sizes of Post-its; filing away last year’s handouts; making out the week’s to do list and writing in special events on my calendar, etc. etc.  I look forward to meeting a new group of freshmen, welcoming them into the world of college.  I look forward to exposing them to new ideas and new experiences, and I hope that in the midst of all the writing, they will have some fun, too.  I arrive at school early, to prepare myself and to pray for the students I will meet, and the excitement I feel is accompanied by another feeling:  fear.  My stomach does somersaults on that first day, as I think about all the things that could go wrong (me, the eternal pessimist): finding typos in my syllabus or going to the wrong classroom or completely butchering a student’s name (I’ve checked my rosters, and there are some names I have no hope of pronouncing correctly).  What if I sound like a complete idiot?  What if they recognize me for the impostor I often feel that I am?  What if they’re all smarter than I am?  What if I completely botch the whole semester and my students learn nothing?

But when I am tempted to just crumble onto my desk, consumed by these fears, I remember the phrase that has comforted me countless times before: worrying robs me of my joy and God of His glory.  If I focus on all of the these petty insecurities, that means I am not focusing on the One who looks at me and sees His daughter, the one He has fearfully and wonderfully made.  If I dwell on these fears, I give them power, and the only One who truly has power holds the world within His hands and will not let me go.  I am reminded of the words of David in Psalm 27:1:  “The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid?”  Of whom (or what!), indeed? 

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple.”  Psalm 27:4

Lame Excitement

I am easily excited.  I think this is an excellent quality, but sometimes I suppose my excitement over things like school supplies just comes across as weird.  This year at school I have my own office.  My very own office space!  And my door even has one of those dry-erase boards on it, so people can write notes on it!  (I’m sure my students will all be stopping by just to write “What’s up?” on my door.)  I shared an office last year, and while my office mate was great, it was sometimes difficult sharing a computer and phone and office space, especially if we both had students in the office at the same time (as I often did because I’m so incredibly popular.  Ha.).  So I was really excited to see my name on the door, by itself!  (The fact that I have a nameplate was at one point a source of extreme excitement in and of itself.)  

The downside to all of this is the fact that my office is now in the engineering department.  (My old office now belongs to the new English department chair, as it was the only office available in the department.)  I have nothing against engineering, but I don’t really know any of the people, and it will be weird to be completely detached from the rest of the English department.  I also have no phone or computer right now, but I’m told that will be remedied.  All in all, I think I will enjoy having my own office, and who knows? Maybe I’ll pick up some engineering knowledge and change career paths.  I’m sure engineering is much more lucrative.