Tomorrow I will meet my teaching assistants, and two days later I will meet the students in my class. I am looking forward to both.
Actually, there are several errors in that short paragraph:
- My teaching assistants are actually called “mentors,” because they serve as mentors to the students as much as they are assistants to me.
- And if the opening paragraph suggested to you that I am “meeting” them for the first time, that’s not true. Tomorrow I will be meeting with them for the first time this summer, but all three are former students of mine!
- And will I “meet” my students? Well, yes, if Zoom counts…but it’s not the same as really meeting them.
- And therein lies the fourth error. While I am definitely looking forward to getting back to teaching after a year away from it—and I am definitely looking forward to “seeing” everyone—teaching remotely is far from ideal.
OK, so what’s the context here? For the 18th consecutive summer I am continuing to teach at CSA, the Crimson Summer Academy at Harvard University, but of course this summer is not like all other summers, though it’s a lot like 2020. Normally (for the first 16 years) we start with rising high-school sophomores, but last summer and this one we start with juniors—all a side-effect of the pandemic. Normally (for the first 17 years) I get to co-teach with my friend and long-time colleague Joyce, but now she has retired from CSA though she continues to teach at Weston during the school year.
Fortunately, however, I will be co-teaching with my former student and former teaching assistant (excuse me, “mentor”) Maishka. So there’s a lot to look forward to, but I’m a bit uneasy about coping with the constraints and limitations of Zoom. It will be my first time as a Zoom host for a course, since I’ve never hosted anything larger than a three-person meeting. But it will still be a lot easier than last summer, where it was my first time doing anything over Zoom. So I am cautiously optimistic.
It will be a challenge.
I like challenges.