Saturday, January 30, 2010

Secondary Teaching Gig

Back in October or maybe even earlier in the last year, my department head asked me to teach an adult education course with her. The topic was professional writing. We would split the course; she would do x number of classes and I would do the remaining two. I really had no burning desire to do this until she shared the salary they were offering, and then suddenly, I had cravings to be involved.

The classes are offered through a company who is accredited to provide adult education. To this day, I am still not certain who in Hungary has this accreditation authority or for that matter, what it means. One thing I have surmised is that accreditation means that the company can charge big bucks or big forints for their offerings.

Classes started at the tale end of last year, but with me being away, my contribution was only this last Saturday and again today. Initially, we were going to do 4 hour classes; however, they enrolled eighty students, so broke the group into 2 groups of forty each. Doing a 4 hour class is exhausting and I have not done one for years, so being well out of practice, I was more than thankful for the restructuring. In the past, I have done 2-3 day, full 8 hour seminars, but gosh, I was ten years younger back then too. 

Last week, I went during the week to check out the set-up. I am more comfortable when I know the lay of the land ahead of time. Shock upon shock, this organization has it down to a science. The room was large enough to accommodate one hundred new-looking, well padded chairs with attached desk modules that move into place. There is a huge whiteboard on wheels with dozens of marking pens in various colors, a computer with a flat screen sits on the desk, but is plugged into a projector attached to the ceiling projecting clearly onto the wall for all to see, and there are three bottles of water with a glass-glass for the instructor along with some Hungarian nibbles. This is enviable professionalism here that should be replicated in the university settings.  

When I arrived for my class last Saturday, the company monitor had suggested I should not be too disappointed if the turn-out is low, because people have been dropping out over the course of time. Many were sent by their companies and resented having to be there on a Saturday morning. We were both a bit surprised when forty appeared for the first session, but neither of us were dismayed when only twenty appeared for the second session. Starting a class at 12:30 on a Saturday really cuts into the day.

Yesterday, my second part of the gig looked like it was going to be a disaster. It had started snowing early in the morning and was continuing to snow heavily all day. Twenty-five people were there, some as far away as from Debrecen, a three hour train ride to Budapest. The afternoon was not as successful; only ten showed. With an infected tooth and a cheek twice its normal size, I had offered to repeat the second class at a later date when more could make it, assuming the weather was keeping them away. The ten there wanted to continue on, so we did.

Upon completion of the course, each participant receives a framed diploma with the name of the course, the instructor's names, and the dates of their participation. As well, they also receive something similar in a laminated form. This was quite impressive. They seem to do online evaluations, so I was told at the end of the session that I am at the top of the favorites. This is good news, because now that I have this course all written, I would not mind doing a repeat performance.
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