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September 18, 2013

Teaching is about to start and I am getting more nervous by the minute

by Jess Guth

Why? I’ve been doing this for a while now. My first lecture is an Employment Law lecture providing a brief history of employment law and an overview of the key institutions. I first gave it in September 2007 and it hasn’t changed substantially. I know what I’m doing – and yet, the little butterflies are slowly turning into big winged dragons in my tummy. And it’s not like I am not prepared. All my materials are ready, copied and laid out in my office for the first week, the second week is ready – in fact apart from a total of 6 lectures across my 4 modules, everything is prepared. If I fall under a bus today, someone can come in and just run with it… so the nerves.

I don’t like being the centre of attention, not really. I’m too self-conscious. I’m not naturally extrovert. I’m not shy exactly and I do have confidence in my abilities but I’m actually more of a ‘behind the scenes’ kinda girl. But let’s face it, a lecture theatre full of about 100 strangers or pretty much strangers is a scary prospect and it’s even scarier if it falls to you to keep those 100 strangers entertained and informed. It’s a performance and performances are nerve-wracking. The adrenalin is part of what makes a good performance – so I keep telling myself. I will therefore be focusing my efforts not on trying not to be nervous, I know that won’t work; but on trying to channel those nerves away from dry mouth, can’t speak, sweaty palms kind of nerves to productive nerves.

For all those of you new to teaching who are nervous about it, I’d love to tell you it gets easier and the nerves go away but they haven’t for me, not at the start of term anyway. It’s just that I have experienced all of this before and therefore know that I will get to the end of the lecture and when I do I will have loved it. I will be exhausted but elated and because I know that, stepping into the lecture theatre on Monday at 11am will be tummy – churning hell – but in a good way, if that makes any sense at all.

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