Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Working on a Snowy Day

Well, back home in Tennessee, I probably could have rolled over in my nice warm bed (why is it that a bed is never quite so exquisitely comfortable as it is between snoozes when you have to get up early? When I'm sleeping in the sheets get sideways and my back hurts.).  I woke up to, as predicted, about an inch of snow--although even as I left the house the snow was mixing with rain as the temperature is about 34, although it's not supposed to warm up much during the day.  The snow wasn't really sticking to the roads and even on the sidewalks it was already turned to slush, but it was pretty on the trees and rooftops and cars.  Anyhow, instead of a snow day (unfortunately, no need when you're walking to work anyways), I scurried off through the slushy drizzle for my first day back teaching. 

This semester's schedule is crazy as always, although crazy in a good way. Sometimes I can't believe they pay me to do this job...here it is: 

Tuesday:  Sophomore Writing, 2 classes. 8:00 and 2:00

Thursday: Masters Students Oral English. 4 classes, but each only meets every other week, so they alternate.  Two classes on the even weeks, and the other two on the odd weeks. 8:00 and 10:00.  

And that's it.  The Masters Oral English is extremely easy, as this is my third semester teaching that and I can use lessons I've already prepared and know well.  Also, since I only see each class every other week, one lesson lasts two weeks.  
The writing is a bit more work, but it's the same course I taught last spring so I 
don't have to completely reinvent the wheel, although I do hope to improve on my 
lessons from last year as I'm getting another chance at it.  Of course, with writing, 
there will be quite a bit of out-of-class grading and reading of essays to do, but I 
had three classes last year and only two this year so even that won't be quite as 
terrible.  Also, since my classes are at 8:00 and 2:00 on that day, I will probably 
continue the habit I started last semester of just staying in the classroom building 
for the hours in between and using the time for grading and lesson planning.  The 
other teachers think I'm a bit nutty to hang out in the teaching building that long, 
but it works well for me as it's easier for me to focus on work if I am actually at 
work.  At home there are too many distractions; I get a lot more done sitting in a 
classroom. 

I had expected to continue teaching the freshman oral English I was doing last 
semester; I'm a bit sad not to see those students any more as I was finally getting 
to know them all.  I really enjoyed my freshmen, and teaching oral English--so much easier and more fun that writing!  But, I do have a lot fewer classes this way--two writing classes in exchange for eight oral classes.  My coteacher from last term had told me we would definitely be working together again, and we had already split up the curriculum and all.  However, the students had told me that their schedule for this semester listed Michael as their teacher, not me.  (How in the world do they have schedules in December for the next term, and I don't get mine until Saturday before classes start on Monday???  And I'm the one who has to prepare??? Ah, China.) 

Turns out that, as I should have learned already, always listen to the students, not 
the other teachers.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive...the teachers should get 
information first, then pass it on to the students.  But it's been proven over and 
over that the higher-ups who make decisions don't tell my Chinese coteachers things much in advance, either, but somehow the students find things out.  So far, anytime a coteacher and a student have told me conflicting information about scheduling or holidays or what have you, the student has been right.  Ah, China.  

Overall, though, I can't complain about a job in which I work two days a week. Here's to a new semester, on a snowy day. 

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