So I just had what should have been some what of a small-talk, throw-away convo with one of my coworkers. Basically, I recently took over a few developmental reading courses from a full-time instructor who is on medical leave. It is known that this is the first time I'm teaching this class, and that I had basically no prep time—so it's been a lot of trial and error for me (although, happily, mostly trial). Actually, I've basically been feeling like I'm rocking it, which only made the following situation more jarring. Anyway, this is an approximate reenactment of the convo:
Him: did you have a class today?
Me: Every day.
Him: Oh that sucks.
Me: Not really, in fact it's nice because I kind of have a 'guinea pig class' and another class to correct any problems. (Perhaps my choice of term was questionable, but I mostly meant that having two classes helps to reinforce my teaching skills since my other teaching experiences have been single classes that I never got to repeat in order to iron out any problems with my lesson plans).
Him:....hmmm... Well that's not very fair.
Me: How so?
Him: Well one class has an advantage.
Me (kind of flustered and trying to explain): Well no...I mean...I'm not giving them different assignments.
Him: Yeah but still...kind of.
Unfortunately, in moments like this—where I feel misunderstood and wasn't expecting to—I kind of freeze mentally. So, I walked away, feeling kind of knocked off balance and reeling. And, now I'm sitting here trying to do work and instead my anxiety is making me think through all the ways I want to go back an explain what I meant, as well as worrying that he will tell everyone I'm a terrible teacher.
Logically, I know it's not a huge deal. Overall I (and everyone else I talk to) think I'm doing a good job. The only ways in which my classes will differ is that if I have an awkward or boring part of my lecture, I will try to rectify it for the next class. Or maybe I realize I haven't explained something well, and take a while clarifying so the next time I explain it better and more efficiently. Does that mean one class has an advantage? Perhaps by the tiniest measure. But the material is the same, the assignments are the same, and ultimately whether they pass the class is based on a standardized test at the end of the semester that I have no control of. Plus, compared to the previous teacher my syllabus and schedule are 100x more specific and detailed.
But, nevertheless, I'm sitting here questioning everything, and I know that my anxiety will continue to make my brain spin, my heart race, and my stomach flip-flop for the remainder of the day.
Update: Thank you all for your encouraging and validating words and stories. I definitely feel much better. You all rock!