Been & Going


[TRENCHES] Calibration

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I just started teaching (and, consequently, stopped writing). I find the process of calibration to be similar to beginning a show with a mostly new array of cast and crew. Please, allow me to elucidate.

The first day of class is a meet-and-greet table read of the script which, in this case, is a syllabus. After delving into the cast of characters and basic setting, everybody gets a solid feeling for their roles, character arcs and expectations. They’re always higher than the encumbrance of reality should allow. This, of course, will change with time.

After a session or two, it’s time to get deep into a core concept. Analyses of various depths will ensue, almost guaranteeing a breakdown in communication at some point. Unfortunately, out of a desire to maintain harmony and progress, every effort will be made to prevent this from being disclosed. The train of further development trundles on, building up steam toward problem track.

Eventually, a common language develops and everybody reaches the first big deadline: the midterm, when all the design drawings and basic paperwork are due. These are always a little shaky, depending on how much everybody paid attention to the details. Pesky things like obvious concepts, subtleties, and specific numbers – like budgets – seem to fly away quickly. Everything seems a little dull and requires some revision.

After some arduous tutoring, everybody winds up back on the same page in time for the major project of the semester: tech week. This is often ambitious at the outset, before the difficulty of assembling what is necessary to complete the task is fully understood. As fevered moments tick onward to the last conceivable moment, every effort is made to cobble together the assignment as best fits the expectations. Without extending more than the minimal effort, of course.

This brings us to Finals Week: opening night. Sometimes, it seems like you’re never going to get there. You might even have assumed as much and forgotten to prepare for all the specific demands. You might stay up all night and power through, but everything eventually comes together.

There’s usually a moment when you look back on the experience and tease out the highs and lows. You may even take a moment to think back about the laughs you had along the way. Hopefully, you’ll keep in touch with the friends you made, and maybe even see them again over many other projects the future.

Whatever the outcome, who cares; you’re probably not going to have to repeat it anyway.

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