Workshop leaders: our greatest unsung heroes. The reason I passed Orgo I. (Incidentally, also the reason for my sapiosexual awakening). ‘Tis the season to meet the brave folks who aren’t getting paid enough to answer frenzied 2 a.m. questions about pyruvate oxidation, and I’m here to tell all you smexy lil’ intellectuals how your CASC-mandated icebreaker of choice reveals your deepest flaws and insecurities. Let’s go!
Roses & Thorns: It’s a classic for a reason, and that reason is narcissism. Since you don’t hear enough of your own voice while holding your audience captive with the fabled promise of exam clues, you just had to work in a way to bemoan your changing-majors paperwork to a gaggle of first-years who foolishly still think they like math. If you actually cared about my life, you could’ve thrown out a quick “how’s it going” instead of looking up Wordle lore during the 10 minutes we sat alone waiting for the session to start. Extra points for when a workshop student tries drunkenly hitting on you at Chi Phi, and you assert your dominance by running away.
Your favorite food/animal/place/[insert any generic noun]: Just say you’re boring. My favorite color? That’s how I made friends when I was seven. Omigosh, you like chocolate better than vanilla?! Guess we’re bonded for life. While half the group wracks their brain for one-word conversation enders, the other half gets to trade unamused eyerolls and mutually agree they’re better than this. Actually, this is still how I make friends.
What’s your fave meme: What are ya, an undercover cop? You gonna ask about my good friend Molly? Report me to Big Workshop? When you’re not trying to stealthily circle a tiny, otherwise motionless room to sniff my breath, you’re muttering “they did anesthesia on a grape” and other hip-with-the-kids-wannabe phrases you half-remember from a boomer’s pop culture crash course PowerPoint. You read that final slide’s “Works Cited” to filth. I bet they don’t even pay you to be here, you sick freak.
Your preferred sleeping position: The easiest path to a subdued group. Sure, they’ll all beg to switch out to avoid your shitlist once you eventually snap and become a serial killer, but intimidation is a key factor for success. Bonus points if you beam them some bedroom eyes and perform hand-on-hand intercourse while struggling to pass the world’s crumbliest chalk from your sweaty, sweaty palms. Next time you’re smearing sacrificial blood outside your Crosby double, remember that if this were fiction, you’d have a posse of teenage girls fighting to bear your children.
No icebreaker, just business: God, what a turn-on. You know why we’re here, and it isn’t to psychoanalyze our breakfast choices (mine, of course, is your mom). There is a direct positive correlation between workshop leaders not asking me shit and how much I’ve liked them. If you’re going to see me at my lowest — as in, crying every week while re-learning how to dispose of non-halogenated waste — I can’t bear to have you perceiving me. You’re smart, competent, and more-than-a-little over this, and everyone likes you all the better for it. Go off king, give us nothing! The people’s TA.
There’s more to being a workshop leader than your icebreaker: You’ll have to master the “squint-nod-good-question-let-me-check-in-with-the-prof” redirection move when all you remember is the version they’re not supposed to know yet, not to mention overcoming your crippling fear of first-years (their little eyes are so full of life! They want to look up to you! Terrifying!) and having to come up with new weekly bullshit for your associated CASC class. Go forth into the great unknown, Peer Teaching Instructor, and please, please get me out of here on time.
A Workshop Practitioner & Connoisseur