UPDATE: Now with non-tiny photos and non-illiterate captions!
I thought this would be an appropriate companion piece to the article I had come out in the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday, which–given that it made me look like a complete goon, which I absolutely was on the campus visit in question–has elicited some responses in the anonymous Internet a-hole sphere along the lines of: well, she had a bad demo because she’s a bad teacher and a shitty person and a jerk, and HOW DARE SHE QUESTION THE STATUS QUO IN THE INDISPUTABLE MERITOCRACY THAT IS ACADEMIA, I MEAN, LOOK AT ME, I HAVE TENURE AND I AM THE BEST.
I had a bad demo at that school (where the faculty were extremely kind, and I would have been delighted to work, by the way; I would have made those students come around), because I was woefully ill-prepared for these particular students, and because these students had not been in any way informed that I would be there, because the teaching demo of this particular visit was pretty much an afterthought, because (SPOILER ALERT) that job was an inside hire the whole damn time anyway, so it was all just a massive charade (pronounced like the Fronch, sha-RAAAAHD).
Anyway, I have been accused by those nearest and dearest to me of harboring an academia-sized chip on my shoulder, and I am trying to move this blog, and my life, into a more positive direction now that I have mercy-killed my academic career. Phoenix rising from the proverbial Aschenputtel, mixed metaphors, ad infinitum.
ANYWAY. I am, as it turns out, not a bad teacher–I am actually a very dedicated and passionate teacher, and aside from a few holdouts (a VERY few), my students adore me because I adore them. ADORE. This semester, my German 3300 class (“Vienna Prague Berlin”) was a particularly special group. Every single one of them was functionally conversant in German (a credit to the venerable Ohio State language program and definitely not moi, a-duh!), and so the full-immersion aspect of the course was straight-up effortless. It was simply a foregone conclusion that everyone spoke only German in that room, and nobody so much as uttered a sentence in English during class time for the entire semester–not because they feared my wrath, but because they wanted to be speaking German.
I have had a lot of terrific students and a lot of terrific groups, but this one, as far as foreign-language courses go, was the greatest among equals. A fitting end to an abortive career. (Sorry, sorry, negativity).
At any rate, on the last day of class, much to my surprise and delight, I found out in the best possible way that the feeling was apparently mutual, and I’ve been waiting to put this up for over a week so that I could make sure each one of them waived FERPA in writing (they did! I break no laws by posting these!), but here goes…
Last Tuesday, as my teachin’ heels and I clopped down the hall of the decidedly non-centrally located Central Classrooms for one last time, I caught a glimpse if a student poking her head out of my classroom door. This was slightly out of the ordinary, but not REALLY suspicious–I mean, maybe they just wanted to see if I was coming? Then as I approached the door, I noticed the room was dark, which was super weird. And then, as I walked in, I noticed a huddled mass of adorable Studis in the middle of the room with a poster they made themselves. “ÜBERRASCHUNG!” they yelled. “ACH NEEEEEIN!!!!!!!!” was all that I could manage, so verklempt was I.
Yes, my angels had taken it upon themselves to arrange a surprise party! I cried. It was embarrassing.
So, now on to the (now not tiny) pics I am finally allowed to post! Here is the entire lot of them, together with the poster they made! I still don’t know who commandeered this operation, but it took some serious planning and forethought. I suspect they did it while they were filling out evaluations and I wasn’t in the room, given that I had told them (in German): “Well, I care about these evals, but they don’t actually matter, given that I am leaving OSU and probably professordom forever and ever.” Students–understandably–don’t understand (nor should they) a single thing about the inner workings of academia, so to them, if you are a good professor that they like, you should have a job teaching them forever and ever. I so wish this were the actual reality, but of course it is not. Anyway, here they are with the poster, which has pictures of all of them on it, next to which they left kind messages wishing me luck and happiness in my next venture:
They also BAKED me a cake, which reads “Wir lieben Sie, Prof. Schuman,” which is technically the incorrect form of “love” in German (reserved only for intimate relationships), but I didn’t teach that distinction, so I absolve myself of blame–plus, my German friends tell me the younger generation of Germans is starting to use “Ich liebe…” for all sorts of stuff now. Anyway, the cake was pretty intense at 9 a.m. but delicious and appreciated. I also ate a Timbit (the Ohio version of a Munchkin), thus putting me in a complete sugar spasm for the rest of the day, which I mistook for emotional overload. Maybe it was emotion overload. I don’t know.
Here’s the same kind message on the blackboard (for all of its state-of-the-artness, OSU still has chalk boards instead of whiteboards. BLURGH. I HATE CHALK).
And here are some pics of the activity we did that day: GERMAN KARAOKE! Here’s Falco’s “Der Kommissar”:
…alles klar, Herr Kommissar?
And here’s Nena’s “99 Luftballons” (all cool German and Austrian pop artists have one name):
We all agreed that 80s hair-band bass players had the best “I’m playing the bass” dance ever, and wondered aloud why no bass players do that anymore.
And here, finally, are two wonderful students I’ve had the joy to teach for three entire courses, with the INAPPROPRIATE but still amazing gift they insisted I open despite not having graded them yet (the self same finger puppets that have since caused my ascent to master auteur status):
I would say I missed these guys more than anything in the world, but I’ve still got a stack of their exams to grade to keep me company. But I still miss them!