I’m teaching a course on Montreal Writers this semester, and while I love teaching this course, I hate my classrooms.
First, there’s the plural – not one bad classroom, but two different rooms, each with its own challenges, beginning with the fact that until we establish our rhythm, students will be showing up late every class because they went to the other room first.
On Tuesdays, we meet in the basement. The basement! There are windows, presumably required by law, but they look out onto nothing. If you stand against the wall and crane your neck, you can see a glimmer of light from the top of the shaft upon which the window “opens” (and, of course, it doesn’t actually open). The classroom is the only one down there, so it feels even more isolated and creepy – no after class discussions, please, lest I get all weirded out and assume you’re secretly plotting to kill me with my own whiteboard markers.
On Thursdays, the same class meets in the amphitheatre. An amphitheatre which seats 125 people, for a class of 35. An amphitheatre which seats those 125 people at long, curved, immovable desks, in permanently attached bucket seats. Group work is going to be interesting. There’s a half-size white board, half of which is obscured by a huge blue permanent marker doodle. The AV set-up is archaic and anything but intuitive. And the floor is slippery linoleum on a rake, which for typical amphitheatre use is probably fine, but for teacher circulation is challenging.
The kicker is that I feel that I cannot complain (at least officially) or request a room change, because I have already made a big last-minute fuss to have the class time changed to accommodate my PhD classes. So, given that the College gave me a significantly more workable schedule, I feel obliged to just grin and bear it. So this weekend will be devoted to revamping course presentations and lesson plans to better suit the environment. Then maybe I can think about the actual pedagogy.