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Tuesday, February 2, 2010


After trying my best to avoid it, I have finally been asked to teach some extra classes this semester. We are expected to teach 20 hours a week. Anything extra is considered overtime. We're paid on a per teaching hour scale that makes it worth your while to teach extra classes. While I'm happy to help out when necessary, I don't actually seek out the overtime. As far as I've found out, this seems to happen every semester. The school hires teachers based on the projected number of students and doesn't take into consideration the students that register at the last minute.

I've been asked to teach an extra class that meets four hours a week. In addition, it is a night class. All of my other classes finish by about 1:30. Luckily for me, my supervisor was able to schedule my new classes earlier in the evening schedule so I finish by 4:00p.m. In addition to being a night class, it's a first semester class taught in the second semester. That means that most of my students are either working or they failed Math previously. One student was in a bad motorcycle accident and was in the hospital for a month. (He showed me the scars and was really in the hospital for a month, not like in Japan where they keep you there for a month for a pulled muscle.) I'm still working on trying to find out what kind of students to expect.

I've seen the students twice so far and they seem to be pretty decent students compared to my other classes. Because the class has been added at the last minute, people are still registering for it. The strange thing is that I've been given a list of 18 students. Of the students on that list, four have shown up to class. Two who have shown up, aren't on that list. The one student who is listed as registered for the class on the computer attendance system is not on the list of 18 students and hasn't shown up to class, yet. If that sounds confusing, it is. Basically, I have no idea of how many students to expect or when I'll have a final list.

To add to the potential trouble for the class as a whole, the six students who have shown up have no problems with the early elementary level math that we are working on. In fact, I'm embarrassed to be teaching it to them. Their difficulty and the reason they're taking these lower level classes is that their English level is low. Unfortunately for them, in our system low in one class means low in all classes. Having only six students who understand the material well and really only need reinforcement with the English vocabulary means we're flying through the book. It also means that if (when) more students come straggling in later, they'll have even more material to make up. Inevitably, it also tends to be the poor students that think they can miss the first week or two of classes so I can look forward to having to back track on the material.

It wouldn't be so bad if the students in this class had their school-issued laptops or even access to the school site on which I've uploaded on-line materials to keep faster students busy while the slower ones catch up. From what the students reported, they'll be getting their laptops a month from now. I have no idea how long it will take for them to be fully operational on the system. The people in educational technology can't really get them on to the system until a majority of the class is registered and that won't be for a few weeks.

Overall, it seems like it's going to be a mess. Even with the potential for screw-ups, I still prefer this class to my usual ones. So far the students are motivated and I can at least see where I can help the students. They seem to have the study habits that will allow them to do well on the tests. While it remains to be seen how the class will shape up, I'm optimistic about how things will turn out. That and the chaos of the registration process gives me a little bit of deniability if things go pear-shaped.

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