A weird thing happened almost as soon as I arrived in Syracuse last week.
After I arrived and settled in, my phone went on the fritz. One minute I was snapping pics of places around Marshall Street, trying to figure out exactly how I wanted to besmirch Chipotle in photo form, the next minute I'm breaking my phone down like a Marine disassembling his rifle. Only it never turned back on.
At the same time, I realized my Flip camera was no longer working, as well. I charged it. I toyed around with it. I made sure I wasn't so dumb that it was simply the lock in place. Nope, it too was dead.
I had planned on turning this past week into a multimedia bonanza for the site. There were going to be pictures. There were going to be videos. I was going to vlog every night to recap that day that way. I was going to walk around the SU-themed Tops Market making snarky comments while people looked at me like I was crazy.
Now I was simply left with the part where people looked at me like I was crazy.
Maybe it was somebody or something trying to tell me not to worry with all that nonsense. It's not like you're going to have any time for it anyway. If that was indeed the message, it was absolutely true.
Book Signing & Beat Siena
Got in to town with about two hours to spare before my book signing at the SU Bookstore. Met up with the folks over there, who are lovely, and chit-chatted about the week that was about to be. Putzed around campus for a little while before heading over to the main event.
I knew the signing was going to be slower compared to the previous one, but it was still very cool to see a lot of faces that I can match up to screen names. I also got to meet a few Little Oranges being grown. The post-graduation bump I was hoping for didn't really pan out. I think I underestimated the "Jewish Grandmothers who have no idea who I am or what the hell is going on" contingent that made up so much of the crowd. In the end, we didn't sell too many books, but it was worth it to meet those I did.
After that, a brief respite before heading over to the Syracuse-Siena game. You know, when you remember how easy it is to walk over to the Dome, pay $10 and head in to take just about any seat you want for an SU Lacrosse game, it drives home why folks like Rahme get so worked up over low attendance. And I'm sure he wasn't feeling any better that night as the Dome drew a pedestrian 4K to watch Syracuse topple Siena in a slow and steady way. At the time, I think we were all pretty sure this team was Final Four-bound. Alas...
And then, it was back to my hotel room to start sweating out the next day. The pleasantries and the cool factor had subsided. I was going to have to walk into that classroom and teach a room full of strangers something they didn't know. As someone who'd never taught anything, that was terrifying; especially considering a lot of the folks in the class were graduate level and probably working on a lot of top-level social media stuff even I wasn't up on.
The jig was up.
Blogging: The Class
The first thing that was funny about teaching the course was the level of trust I had apparently earned before ever stepping foot in the iSchool. There were no documents to sign. No people to check in with. No hoops to jump through (figuratively or literally). I walked from the hotel into the classroom and started teaching.
If, along the way, I had tripped and fallen, cracking my skull open, and a hobo had wandered into the classroom in my stead and starting teaching everyone, no one would have been any the wiser. Until he got to his lesson on Hobo Signs, which would have been a dead giveaway. Hobo Signs was a Thursday topic, not a Monday one.
Long story short, it took me about two days to get my feet under me. Monday, I think I talked too much, while Tuesday not nearly enough. Monday I was pretty light on the assignments, Tuesday I put them through the Real World/Road Rules Gauntlet of blog assignment challenges.
By Wednesday, I figured out the balance, for the most part. I also had a really good sense of where everyone in the class was coming from. It's hard work trying to balance 24 people with such different backgrounds when you're trying to teach a specific subject. Information too basic for one person is critical for another, and vice versa.
#1 - Teaching Is Hard. To say I have a new-found respect for teachers would be an understatement. You just don't think about all the work that goes into it until you actually have to do it. It's not just teaching the class and answering questions. It's grading all that work you stupidly decided to assign, it's constantly tweaking lesson plans and presentations (even if they look like PowerPoint Slides from 1999) and it's always trying to figure out what you missed, forgot to cover or haven't accounted for.
#3 - I Learned A Lot! I can't tell you how many times I was teaching something and as I was saying it, I was thinking, "Wait, how come I don't do this???" I came away from the class more motivated to be a better blogger. Which mostly means inundating you with more advertising.
#4 - Watching People Learn Stuff Is Fulfilling. One thing I didn't account for, given the amount of time involved in the class, was how quickly people would learn and how I'd get to watch it happen. Really impressive to see people take concepts they didn't know existed before the class and become reasonable experts in it by Thursday. I think that's why people teach.
#5 - When Your Class Is 9-5, Someone's Bound to Fall Asleep. Honestly, I'm surprised it wasn't me once or twice. In fact, I may have. Though I imagine had it happened, there would be photos of me all over Twitter by now...
Friday came and went way too quickly and the class was done. I handed out my Final Exam, because I'm a monster, and we called it a day. I got a nice card from the class! So that's a good sign, right?
With some free time before the evening's festivities, I went for a run around campus and down towards South Campus. It's amazing how little things can change, new building can pop up and small improvements can sprout up, but basically it's all the same. God bless anyone living in those condos directly next to South Campus. Hope you have double-glazed windows.
My run culminated at the SU-themed Tops Market. Funny to see in person, though there's something that absolutely terrified me about SU-themed Water. It's plain-old water in a fluorescent orange bottle. That's not...right.
That night it was off to Faegan's for the Festival of Fun. A good time was had by all, though I think I might have had a slightly better time than most. I stumbled out of there late, had the best falafel wrap I've ever had in my life (Thank you, Pita Pit) and called it a night.
The trip ended with me on a flight back to Seattle, unaware that the Syracuse Lacrosse team had fallen in overtime and its Final Four dreams dashed. Shame. That's about the only bad thing to come out of the week. Perhaps it's my fault. Had I stayed an extra day, who knows...
All in all, it was a fantastic experience, a great chance to hang out with familiar faces and meet many others, and a great opportunity to spend tons of time back at SU. My hotel room was up at the top of the Sheraton, facing the campus, so for the entire week the view from my room was the Hall of Languages, Crouse College and the Dome peaking over top both of them. Can't beat that.