I've just finished my first week at Brooklyn College, where I'm teaching The Emergence of the Modern,* The Bible as Literature, and Medieval English Literature (which I'm of course doing as Medieval British Literature: no one can keep me from Marie de France, Gerald of Wales, and Beroul). I'm really loving it. We did Fitt I of SGGK (not this), after an overlong 'intro to the Middle Ages' lecture (do you find that you lecture longer with or without notes? For me, I think it's "without"). where I focused, naturally, on the opening Trojan lines, the humiliation of Arthur's court, and the Green Knight himself. I imagine this is probably the standard SGGK class?
I walked them through order of presentation for the GK: his perfect (too perfect) body [I said it "went to 11": no laughs. Can I no longer make Spinal Tap references in my lectures?]), his perfect clothing (after having introduced them 30 minutes beforehand to the 1363 sumptuary law: bless them, they made the connection), and then, but only then, his shagginess. The red eyes of course come much later. I asked: why hold off on his monstrousness for so long?
And 25 minutes later, I had run out of time. Good! And I got at least one golden comment from my students: "I have to keep reminding myself he's a monster." I just about jumped on my desk; instead, I held myself to gesturing wildly at her, nearly shouting "Precisely!," and then, more calmly, "Why do you suppose that is? What happens when something occupies the place where a monster should go but isn't in fact that monstrous?"
I expect many people here have finished their first week of teaching. Consider this a low-stakes conversational thread to share your own perfect pedagogical moments, places where a class has surprised you (for the good), and where you've been reminded of why you're in the profession at all. Join in especially if this is your first time teaching.
* I didn't come up with the title. It's a "Core" course, in this case, an Intro to Western Lit Course, Chaucer to Woolf, with 1001 Nights standing in for 'the rest of the world.' I've been teaching it as "The Emergence of the Modern?" (Aren't I clever? I started with 'The Former Age,' so you can see how this class will go).