Friday, September 13, 2013

Semester Begins with a Bang

Well if that is not a misleading title if there ever was one. It is a typical bait and switch for sure. Summer was about ten weeks too short. I really don't even care about summer, but the vacation could have been extended. 

School started Tuesday. After they dismantled our e-learning system in November, we had no means of giving online tests during the spring semester. They finally instituted a new e-learning system in August, but of course the instructions were only in Hungarian. A memo sent to me stated that the program can translate into US English, British English, and Universal English, as well as Universal Spanish, German and Urdu. Okay, maybe not Urdu. Regardless, someone forgot to flip the switch somewhere. The damn thing would not translate into any flavor of English nor would it hablar español. 

After consoling me with the fact that they had saved all of my previous quizzes over 100 of them for 18 different courses, it was assuring to know they could upload them for me, since there was no option for DIY. When push came to shove to get them to show their true colors, they only uploaded quizzes for 2 classes of the 7 classes I needed quizzes for this semester. Repeated e-mails went unanswered.

Finally, I had a former student who works as a computer tech to come over to guide me through so I could manually enter the quizzes yet again. While he was working, the page would suddenly refresh, appear in English giving a false sense of security. Moments later we were back to staring at Hungarian. The final solution: get a teaching assistant to put the quizzes in for me after having him sign a non-disclosure statement. 

Having to teach 4 classes on Tuesday and 5 on Wednesday, I try to arrange the classes so that I can use the same room each day. I have my own projector, laptop, speakers, and extension cord. Staying in one room saves time from having to breakdown the equipment and set it up again repeatedly. Up until Tuesday, the registration showed my room assignments as I had requested. After my second class, though, another instructor was at my side waiting to get into the room. One last minute check with the registration online, my room assignments had been changed. 

On the bright side, the student numbers are minimal. Really so much so, it just may be a good semester in the long run. Just as I get totally disgusted and ready to throw in the proverbial towel, I receive these comment, which gives me an opportunity to smile. 

Anna wrote "I'm teaching English in a high school and I have to tell you that you always inspire me in my work with your patience and with the way you helped us develop our own ideas about topics (to think "out of the box" :) ) My lessons are much simpler than our classes at university, but the way you were always consistent in your expectations but still let us have our own ideas is something that I particularly liked, and try to "copy" as a teacher."

Árpád "On a different note, I found myself reminiscing about the Writing Program on Tuesday. This semester I am taking Stanley’s Media and Communication in the US class as an elective, and it is in Room 439, which reminded me of the Race and Ethnicity classes. I had completely forgotten what that room looked like, but the moment I entered, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia.

I was also reminded of the Gilded Undergraduate Years today, when some people wanted to “have questions” in class. I said nothing out loud, but sub-vocally I murmured, “You can have as many as you wish, but you need to ASK a question if you want an answer to it.” Our teacher must have approved of the phrase because he used it himself."
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