It’s my first day at Weselton University and I am super excited to start my day. What seems like forever ago, I lined up my schedule perfectly so that my first class on Mondays wouldn’t start until 1:00 pm. Which means that today, I didn’t have to wake up until noon. Which is like having a two and a half day weekend. Which is awesome.
My first class is just down the hall from the secretary’s office. I walk up the steps and see her sitting there, smiling, typing away and I wave. I’ve seen her a few times over the summer when I needed to schedule an appointment. Her smile gets bigger as she looks up from the computer screen, “Have a good first day!”
I continue down the hall to the classroom. There is a girl sitting in the front row with the class book in her hand. The email had said Bring your copy of Maggie: A Girl of the Streets to our first meeting. Yes, you will need to actually buy this one, as we will be using it a lot. The girl must be getting a head start on the book. I walk to the back of the room and sit in one of the desks and place my bag on the floor near my feet.
“Wow, this book seems….interesting.” The girl says.
“I haven’t bothered to look at it yet.”
“Didn’t you read the syllabus? We will already have a paper on it next week! This teacher sounds nuts.” She turns towards me.
“She seems interesting to me. The email was full of humor.”
“’Yes, you will need to actually buy this one’ Ha ha. Why wouldn’t we buy the books?” The girl seems to be a freshman and didn’t understand the humor the professor had uses.
“Not all the students here buy every book.”
“Why not? The teacher says you need it, then you need it.”
“Not if they only use like one chapter of it, come classes are like that. You’ll learn. Freshman?”
“Yes actually, it’s my first day.”
“I could tell.” She turns back in her chair and I look up to the old fashioned chalk board. There is writing on it that looks like the secretary’s handwriting. After looking at the schedule books a few times over the summer, I recognized it.
19th Century American Literature 1:00 PM Class. Monday, August 22
I hope you’ve brought your book
Because you’ll be kicking it old school
Form the desks in a circle
Read out loud to each other, paragraph to paragraph to page five
Then introduce yourselves to each other and just chat until class is over
Another student walks in and sits down a few seats away from the girl in the front row. Then another comes in and sits near the middle. Soon the class is filled up.
“Man that’s bullshit!” A student cries and leaves the room. I guess what was written on the board seemed like too hard of a task.
“I think it’s pretty cool” Says the girl in the front row.
“So wait, the prof isn’t even going to be here?” Says another.
“I guess not. This could get interesting.” Another student says as he stands up, ready to move his desk. One by one they all stand up and move the desks into a circle. I pull out my book from my bag.
“Woah chick, did you do some extra reading?” My neighbor says to me, looking at my book with post-it notes coming out of all sides.
“Uh, I had this book since High school…” I quickly say, not wanting to let them know I actually enjoy the read.
“Well, How about you start, Nerd.”
“Uhm, alright I guess.” I begin to read the first chapter. One by one we go around the room, reading one paragraph at a time.
“Wow. Well I guess we need to introduce ourselves.” Says the girl from the front row.
I smile and nudge my neighbor, “Your turn to start, man.”
“Ha ha, alright. My name is Travis, uhm. Junior. Secondary Education Major. And uh, I’m from Bloomington.” He looks to the person on his right.
“Jeffery, ya’ll can call me Jeff. Kankakee, Junior English. Is that all we need to say?”
“I guess. It just said introduce yourselves and chat.” Says Travis.
“Okay my turn, My name is Jane. I’m from Princeton. Also a Junior English Major.” We go around the room until we get to the girl in the front row.
“Tiffany, Freshman double English/Communications Major. I’m from Litchfield.”
“Woah, a freshman in a 300 level class? How’d you manage that?” Questions Travis.
“I worked really hard and took some classes over the summer.” Tiffany touts. The next three students introduce themselves.
“My name’s Lauren. I’m also a freshman, and before you get on me like Tiffany, I also took some classes and got special permission. I am a Journalism Major, English minor from Chicago. You know, I can’t believe the teacher ain’t here. Like, how do you find out if this is really the right class for you?”
“I think it’s kind of cool, you get to experience your classmates before some big shot gets in your way and gives you a bunch of papers to write.” Says Jimmy, a junior sitting next to Tiffany.
Travis speaks up. “Yo man, I agree. We’re going to be sitting with everyone for the whole semester. We’re going to be talking about these books, sharing our opinions. I’ve been in classes before where you didn’t find out that the quiet kid in the center of the class was in fact the most annoying and opinionated son of a bitch you’ve ever met and you don’t get to find that out until it’s too late to switch classes. Naw man, I like this way. But hold up, we still got a few people left before we start chatting.” Finally they get to me.
“Hey everybody. Actually, I agree what you said Travis, we must be in here for a reason. The teacher probably wanted everyone to get to know each other before he or she came in and took over. It takes a lot to sit with a class and express opinions. It’s like reading the first chapter of the book. Getting to know the main characters and being able to judge them. Like getting to know the background of Maggie, you get to know why things will happen later in the book.”
“Yeah, but who are you?” Barks Tiffany.
“Oh right.” I stand up. “My name is Mrs. Battas. I did my undergrad here at Weselton, got my masters at Oxford, and right now I am doing an in-progress degree for my doctorate.”
“Wait… so you’re taking a 300 level undergrad class for a doctorate?” Says Tiffany, confused.
“No, stupid. She’s the teacher!” Exclaims Travis.
“Yes. Your professor. This has been a wonderful first class students. Thank you for joining my little experiment and I hope it doesn’t scare you away and that I’ll see you next class. Now, for the assignment some of you talked about before class started, I want you to write a two page double spaced twelve point font paper on your experience today. I want you to write about the characters of class and how you learned about them in our very own ‘first chapter.’” I pick up my bag, stuff my book into a side pocket and walk out of the classroom full of shocked faces.