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Getting there


Thursday, July 08, 2004

Just before class a colleague who has been teaching the same course as me for three years now introduced herself in the staffroom. She was kind enough to show me her materials, made up over the years into a clearly developed coursebook of her own. Very impressive, I asked for a copy to get some ideas, because the stuff on the market is too dense, the vocab is deadly...but then on the other hand, although her course progresses through the field of Economics much more clearly and methodically than mine, and she uses videos and all!!, I do feel a sense of satisfaction at having had a go with my students at some of the more subject specific terminology, as oppose to journalese.....but i felt like a midget in face of her materials, so much to emulate there. I hope in three years time I'll be as professional and smooth, and be a better conduit for the students.

Anyway, off I went to the classroom, two students had actually not bothered to prepare a vocab sheet ( I thought it was just the test, they protested...although I had clearly explained things last week, sigh...) so I told them to write something out, they would get marks just for writing down the vocab (20% of the mark is finding vocab and filling out the sheet, which is intended to encourage them to go and look for words that are meaningful for them to study, rather than just copy, which, to my regret, I must say some have been doing..)

Double checking went well, most students in this class do their stuff seriously, and knew fine I would check everyone today, although one student had the original he copied from under his nose, hidden by textbooks, so when i double-checked him he had the answers pat....why all this cheating? Is it something inherently disempowering in the system I have set up? Just want to get the marks, but not really put in any effort...I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror...what should/can I change to get across that it's about studying, not grubbing, sleazing, cheating, surface success (but then for some people grubbing remains all their lives...it's not a friendlly world...)

Anyway, after a break, they set to doing the test, (one of my A students had turned up to meet a friend, who then didn't turn up for the test...! The visiting student also did the test, but their heart wasn't in it, desultorily, not that i minded) I had to bite back the wish to ask why the friend hadn't come to the test, so amazed they would throw away the chance to upgrade their mark, but then obviously my "A" student didn't know either, what with sitting there in vain waiting for this person to show when she could have been snoozing in bed.)

What more to say? One student had forgotten his dictionnary, his textbook, his everything... I didn't know it was a test, he said...I pointed to the classroom rules, which say please bring your file, textbook and dictionnary to every class, and said I couldn't help him (to be honest, for the first time, since it was the test, I didn't have my own textbook with me that day otherwise i would have lent it to him, and had left the course files at home, what with them being so heavy to lug on the train complete with student test papers and all..and I don't own a snazzy electronic diccy yet....waaaagghhh, i want, i want,.. but the price....)

Off to the library after class to photocopy journals on SLA and grammar, then a beeline for the train home, marking on the train, and just finishing as we got to my station in the scorching heat to wend my way home from there.