The copy machine in the office is scheduled to be replaced perpetually “two weeks from now”. It’s been fixed so many times in the past few years that it’s limped along far beyond it’s scheduled maintenance and upgrade cycle. Now the only thing preventing it from being replaced is the toner, which is an expensive ongoing concern. Once the toner is completely drained, there is supposed to be a used machine this office will inherit from another office, and this machine will finally be removed from service. It won’t be launched out a window, but at least there is a plan for its replacement.

Now that there are constant toner errors, there is no way of knowing if any particular copy you make will be completed before you need to stand next to the machine and open and close doors to the toner cartridge. Somehow opening the door and closing it in a particular sequence in the copying process will continue the copying. If you don’t go through this ritualistic ceremony several times before class, you’ll have to make do with walking to another building to be prepared for class.

This weekend, I came in to prepare my classes, which required me to go to the other building to get things done. It’s pretty ridiculous to have to stop by two buildings just to prepare a class when there is a copy machine in the room that does nothing but take up space. I ran through some copies that couldn’t be completed and only got my class prepared when I went to the backup machine.

I was concerned that if the materials I prepared today didn’t last the entire time, there would be a conflict in the way I planned out my syllabus for the next week. Since being able to prepare multiple papers before the class wasn’t possible, and copy something if the proposed lesson ran short was out of the question, I needed my materials to be spot on. I was also teaching my extended second institute class covering the same materials, so if it failed once, it was going to fail even harder the second time.

Luckily for me, this material directly relates to my Master’s degree research at the moment, which means I have plenty of information to share.  I can convincingly explain why it is relevant to English learners of this particular level, and provide tips to learning it. The lesson went as long as needed, despite being vocabulary driven, and the students were interested enough to make an honest effort in following it.

Not only was the first class good, the second, longer class was even better and I got to go into detail talking about how students could improve their fluency, which will directly affect any future speaking tests they have at the university. I wouldn’t have been able to have the class without the copies I ran off at the second building, but I didn’t need to rely on any secondary materials, or worry that I didn’t have enough to talk about. Oh, and it turns out being somewhat familiar with the materials in a scholarly way helps your confidence and planning of a class tremendously. Awesome.