Preparing for a new term

Polesworth Abbey

There is definitely an autumn chill in the air and I am filled with an excited back-to-school feeling: September is almost upon us!  I especially feel like I’m preparing for a new academic year as I’ve been spending time over the last few weeks working on new teaching sessions.  My main job is research focused, but as I’ve posted on here previously, I’ve recently taken up a role doing sessional tutoring for my county council’s Adult and Community Learning Service.  Whilst my sessions so far have focused on women’s magazines, in the coming months I’ll a few others to do too.  Getting started on preparing for them has been invigorating, particularly as they have a different focus and approach to the university teaching that I’ve been used to.

There is also an element of fear involved.  Firstly, because this work is so different from other teaching that I’ve done and continue sometimes to do, I am worried about how to pitch the tone and how to gear the activities.  Secondly, one of the sessions (Women From Your Past – couldn’t resist an innuendo in the title) is going to be pretty ad-hoc, which allows for many more things to potentially go awry.  I will be relying on participants bringing with them information about women from their family tree and building discussion around that, trying to illuminate the life of the individual and place them in a broader context.  Seemed like a great idea at the time!  I still think it could work really well, but am going to draw up a back-up plan in case it doesn’t quite work out.

Thirdly, and possibly most terrifying of all, people I know might show up!   Presenting to and interacting with people I know pushes me much further from my comfort zone than working with strangers. There are two main reasons for this.  One is that if it goes wrong I’ll have to face them again.  Number two is that they are perhaps more likely to give me a hard time, however jokingly.  I’ve had enough stick from family and friends about the photograph and report on a recent session that appeared in the local paper this week (pictured above) to suspect that number two is a distinct possibility.  The write-up has, though, provided an opportunity to talk with some people I know about what I do and outlines further, more formal, opportunities for them to learn more if they wish.  I guess worrying about the prospect that they make take up this chance is just part of the new term nerves as I go back into the classroom.