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The First Day

SEPTEMBER 5, 2007
This post is dedicated to all the teachers out there.
The new semester started and I happily prepped for my classes…well, sort of.  This semester I am teaching a portfolio class and a couple of sections of digital illustration for sophomores.  I would have to admit that after a lazy August, I really wasn’t excited to get back to all the chaos that is the academic/educational system.  I knew though, that after a day or two of people discussing rubrics, measurable results and proper syllabus formats, I KNEW I would go numb which would invariably save me from launching myself out of the 8th floor window shouting “DOWN WITH RUBRIC!!” on the way down to my crushing death.  I also knew that once I started seeing these incredible brave and creative students, I would relax and get into it again.
So, knowing that the groove will come back, I walked into the building confident and assured that I will have a delightful first day of school.  I even dressed up for the occasion wearing a nice striped button up, sport jacket and Converse sneakers.  Who said I wasn’t ‘hip’?  I arrived to my first class a half hour early to check over the facilities and computers to make sure things started up properly and I had everything I needed.
As I walked into the room, the first thing that hit me was the 90 degree weather in the room.  Apparently the heat was on.  The second issue was a wall of stink that smelled like 10 day old fermenting cow.  I briskly walked across this computer lab to open up the windows and halfway through the room my feet started sloshing on the carpet.  Half the room was flooded!  Looking at about $30,000 of computers including these new fangled digital blackboards…AND power cords all over, I ran (actually skipped-hopped) out of the room.
I called IT on one of the emergency phones in the hall and worked out transferring the class for that day to another room.  There were students already showing up to class.  I had to move fast and make some signage to get 20 students corralled onto another floor and room.  Apparently, a pipe burst in the radiator but they couldn’t explain why the heat was on.  This ate about 45 minutes into a 3 hour class.
Finally, all the new students and I were in the new temporary classroom.  I took my sport jacket off as I was beginning to perspire.  I went through the usual schpeel about attendance, professionalism and grading procedures and went over to the computer to begin showing a slide presentation of illustrations.  As I clicked the remote to turn on the projector mounted on the ceiling, those two words that all fear “Replace Lamp” glowed menacing on the screen.  Already an hour and fifteen into class.

I tossed the remote on the desk and said a rather scruffy comment under my breath which prompted giggles from the students as I went across the hall to IT and told them the issue.
I gathered the 20 students around my computer and showed them the presentation as an IT guy tinkered with the projector by standing on the desk in the middle of the room.  No, it wasn’t distracting in the least.  As soon as I was done the projector lit up like a Christmas Tree and projected my desktop across the room.  Poetic.
Trying to keep things moving along, I decided to refocus the class (and myself) to their computers and start going over some of the tools and palettes and get to know these students capabilities by assigning a couple of in-class projects.  Things started moving along normally; my frustration and nervousness started to dissipate.  The students were peering attentively at their screens then a couple of gentlemen in blue coveralls barge into the room and started chatting and pointing.  I BRISKLY (note the caps) walked over and in a gentle way asked, “WTF?!?”  By now my sleeves were rolled up.  One said, “We were supposed to reimage these computers at 3PM and we were told you’d be out by 5PM.”  I started thinking about the 8th floor window and pondering that a good up-draft could keep me afloat for an extra few seconds….cool, I’d be like Superman....or hiding under my desk in the office...slowly rocking back and forth.  It would certainly be safer.
Being that this was the first day and I essentially got done what I needed to get done, I wrapped the class up in the most classy way I could and got them started on work to be done for the following week.
The moral of the story:  Never, in any part of your life, EVER stop and think that you have things under control…and never work in a building that has more than 2 floors.
Topical: Things I Paint