Madison Monday: The 8 o’clock class

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For the first time since my very first semester at Hanover, I’m teaching an 8 o’clock class. This is as early as you can possibly take or teach a class at Hanover.

The 8 o’clock class my first year at Hanover was in Hendrix, a building set off on its own on campus, overlooking the river. Often, I’d arrive to find the building locked, and my students would have to wait around while I called maintenance to let us in.

It was not my choice to teach a class that early back then. I did not think of myself as a morning person. I had no husband, no step-daughter. Just a cranky old cat who’d been abandoned to my parents when I went to grad school and a house that was too big for one person but too cheap to pass up. I taught my 8  o’clock class and swore that I would never do it again.

Hanover in the fog

Campus in the fog

In the past few years I’ve discovered that I might actually be a morning person. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’ve become a morning person. I often have to get up at 6 to get our daughter off to school. At some point, I found myself waking up that early even on days when I didn’t have to. Why not teach an 8 o’clock, then?

The roads are very quiet that early in the morning. As I sit in my office with a cup of tea, I can watch the first students begin to straggle across the quad towards their classrooms. They walk much less purposefully than they do later in the day. There is none of the calling out to each other. They’re not in a hurry. Sometimes the fog is so thick, they can barely see each other.

There’s more yawning than usual at 8 o’clock. But also a small group of students who, like me, are tempted by the possibility of being done with classes by 11. For 50 minutes, we talk about things we’ve read and our lives and how to use sociology to make the world bigger and more interesting. Usually by the time we’re done, the fog is gone.

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