Flashback — the Bad Kind

My first year teaching — ever — was in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois. The course was SpCom 111-112, a year long speaking and writing course. One of those “skills” courses with no official content, though students had to read a minimal amount of stuff. I still remember the first day of my first class, where the students were as nervous as I was (they were all first term undergrads). We all walked into the room together (why they waited for me, I don’t know) and I began by verbally walking them through the syllabus while sitting at my desk. My throat was very dry, and I am certain that it was not a particularly inspiring first day. What I had chosen to forget, however, was my office environs.

Like all Speech Comm TAs, I was assigned an office in “Room 8,” which was in the bowels of Lincoln Hall. Greg Wise has linked to a video documenting our old environs (he taught there longer than I did). If anything, the place looks a little better than I remember it. Maybe that’s just how memory works, but it sure doesn’t look good in the video. The horror movie staging isn’t that original in the sense that pretty much all of us (whether TAs or students), at one time or another, probably wondered if we might die down there. Also, I need to emphasize that you’re looking at the FRONT entrance in the video, not some backwards route. That is how I got in and out.

2 replies on “Flashback — the Bad Kind”

  1. That is impressive. I’d always thought our grad students in UCB English had it bad … there was a hierarchy where you moved up over time into nicer digs, but the first “office” you got was a small room that was used for storage and had a few fake walls thrown up to create cubicles. The room was small, so each cubicle barely had room for an old desk and one chair (you’d have to get extras wherever you could if someone showed up) and there were only a few of these cubicles in any event. And the storage area, which was in the front, consisted of a couple of aged file cabinets and a billion boxes, each one marked with the course info on the outside (some of these were years past their due date, pun intended).

    But at least we were on a real floor. We were being disrespected, but they weren’t trying to kill us, which is how your situation looks on that video.

  2. pretty soon those digs will be history, if the renovation plans go forward. Post-renovation, the TAs will be on the 3rd floor. I hear there will be showers down in the basement, which is kind of appropriate given all the leaky pipes.

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