Moderating a Panel: A Nightmare
Over at Prawfsblawg, Liz Glazer has a post about the transition new professors experience from anxiety dreams about being a student (the math class you haven’t attended all semester) to anxiety dreams about teaching. Although I have been teaching for several years now in various capacities, I so far have not had an anxiety dream about teaching. (Knock on wood.) But I have had an anxiety dream about moderating a panel. It went like this:
In the dream, I show up at a conference panel I’m supposed to moderate, only to realize I don’t recognize any of the speakers and I don’t have any information on me about who they are or what the panel is about. It’s five minutes before the panel is supposed to start. I need to figure out a discreet way of finding out the names and bios of each panelist. Someone engages me in conversation before I can get to the podium. Not wanting to give away my panic, I talk nonchalantly. Three minutes. I extract myself from the conversation. Maybe if I just engage the panelists in conversation I’ll see their nametags. But they are busy talking to other people. Two minutes. I manage to get the attention of the first panelist. I ask the panelist to spell his/her name and confirm his/her bio. Time’s up. People are settling in their seats and looking at me. I’m standing at the podium. Boy, I hadn’t realized how well-attended this session would be. I flip through my papers once more, trying to find our panel description, but I’m having trouble focusing on the words. It seems awfully quiet.
Then I wake up.