Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The first week

It's nearing the end of the first week of school and all I can say at this point is that--I've survived it so far.

My online classes are straightforward enough. In CIS (basic required computer course), the first assignments of the week were to take a pre-test, set up a home page of Blackboard, and read the syllabus. Then I was to email the instructor when I'd completed them all.

I woke up at four am on Monday, and while trying to decide whether to go back to sleep or stay up, pulled up Blackboard, and studied the directions. By five am, it was obvious I wasn't going anywhere so I decided to set up the homepage. That was easy enough. Then I read the syllabus. After a cup of coffee, I was ready to take the pre-test, which I made an 87 on (I know nothing about Access and am only user friendly with Excel which made up exactly 5 of the 30 questions and are the only ones I missed). So I emailed the instructor as directed. It was early, I was feeling cocky.  So I wrote:

Subject: Done. Done (And done)

Syllabus read
Homepage set up and decorated as per instructions
Pre-test taken--87%

All before six am. Because I roll like that. 

His response:
100% 100% (and 100%)
I like the way you roll.

I have contributed my opinion to an online discussion concerning critical thinking as per the Speech and Communication professor's instructions. As this is a favorite soap box of mine, I had to be careful and stay on topic. The worst part of this class will be having to watch myself on video before sending it in. Speaking in front of people doesn't worry me and I've already got my topics picked out, but  I am intensely camera shy. The writing aspect of it is not an issue.

Yesterday I went to my on campus classes. Gary and Sam tagged along, taking in the Discovery Center after dropping me off.  

I am NOT enthused about Geography. Unlike my youngest, I do not possess the ability to retain the locations of countries, state capitols, their various climates, and political practices. Do not ask me to remember what country Budapest is in (Hungary--by the way) as I will do the same thing with that information that I do with my glasses and my keys. I have two sets of both for a very good reason; I lose things--I set them down and forget where I left them. Unfortunately, they won't let me have a spare set of countries. However Sam (who often locates lost objects for me), knows exactly where they all are (all the time) and has offered to help me study.

The Children's Literature professor was a delight. In her sixties, with short blonde hair going to grey, she was small and round and slightly disheveled. A little disorganized and extremely honest, she volunteered that she was diagnosed as hyper-active as a kid (AdHD) and  still exhibited symptoms (I'm hip).  That she was caring for her ninety-two year old mother and was raising her granddaughters. Her home phone number was on the top of our syllabus. "You can call my house if you want to, but there are a lot of crazy people living there and I never know where my cell phone is. You'll be better off to email me--I always answer emails." Still she had the air of someone who'd been teaching a long time and enjoyed her job--she knows literature and she understands students. But what truly endeared her to me was when she finished the class up by reading "Mending Fence" by Robert Frost and volunteered that it was her favorite Frost poem (It's mine too).She prefaced the reading by saying, I can only give two weeks to the subject of poetry in this class, and that's simply not enough. Not really. 

My Intro to Education class was packed, with fifty-five students in attendance. The professor was a lovely woman from Columbia with a terrific accent and an even better sense of humor. Her grasp of English as a second language was excellent, but twice she had to clarify what students meant by words like "dirt bike". It only made her more popular.
Other than the professor, I was the only one in the room over the age of about twenty-three. We went around the room introducing ourselves and stating something that made us unique. 

When it was my turn, I glanced around with a grin and said, Gee. What makes me unique in this crowd . . . 

Everyone chuckled. 

I'm forty-five and I'm returning to school after a twenty-two year absence. 

Eye brows rose. Surprise registered. 

I overslept, I added casually, nodding to the nearest students. 

A LOT more laughter. 

The professor told me later that it was nice to have someone in the room that looked like her. She said this when we were finally within close enough range to observe our mutually-forty-something looking faces. She also said that my being forty-five did not make me unique, but returning to school did.  I have a seat buddy named Danielle (the professor required that we do this). She is a cute kid, very bright, and already has oodles of experience with special needs kids. I instantly liked her. 

I have a meeting with this professor next week as she makes it her mission to get to know all the students in her classes (Wow! Just wow!). I have a million questions for her revolving around how I'm going to accomplish my goals--once I work out exactly what they are.  

The work load doesn't look to be too bad. I will have to stay focused in order to keep it all straight. I'm worried being there on time, about not missing class, about forgetting important deadlines, about blowing Geography tests (largely because, unlike my youngest, I am not good at remembering where things are on maps). 
Two classes will have group presentations. I am a loner by nature and prefer to work by myself.  I will obviously have to get over this.

Gary is supportive, so much that he's getting up two hours early to take Sam to his afternoon class at the public school on Thursdays. I'll pick him up on my way home. He took over the cooking so I could study and he's flight-checked the mini van ten times in the last two days.  He and the boys are cheering me on. My friends and family are cheering me on. It seems that even God is calling out encouragement from the sidelines. And with all that behind me, I'm beginning to suspect that I'll make it. 


Wes Holly said...

Yeah, Mary! Keep on keepin' on!

Anonymous said...

"...God is calling out encouragement..."

indeed He always is; but how wonderful to sense it ~ Thank you for that reminder....

Sounds like you are off to a great and solid start...and should it get *tougher*, just remember: one step at a time ~ and occassionaly, it may be one baby step at a time. Have fun with this Mary!


Pencil Writer said...

I'm so proud of you! And I'm jealous. I love being in school. I was 47/48 the last time I was in school . . . and man that was a long time ago! I've always loved school and learning. So, you have fun!

Pencil Writer said...

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, back about two weeks ago I thought of you while traveling through your neck of the woods--through Branson and Springfield. I hollered. Did you hear me?

Debby said...

Yes, Mary. I've not a smidgen of doubt. Now. Let me get off this computer and back to my own books.

Scotty said...

Great post - if I can ever offer any help with Excel spreadsheets, gimme a holler.


Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Wes.

Eileen--I hope I am. Thanks.

PW--I am trying to have fun, but mostly I'm just trying to keep up. :) Thanks.

So that's what that sound was??

Debby--I think my brain cells need a jump start. I've kept my head down pretty much all week.

Scotty--when we get to that section, I'll be in touch. :)