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Friday, April 2, 2010

Students (take 2)

Right now is the time of the semester when the summer holiday seems so close yet so far away. With a three quarters of the year behind us, the students must be feeling that too. The good news is that by now, most of the jokers in my classes have been removed for poor attendance and only the serious students are left.

Because they're college students, they have a lot going on. Pretty much every class, one or more students has to leave early to visit a friend or relative in the hospital. A lot of them must be pretty sick themselves, because they themselves have doctor's appointments to go to. I feel a little sorry for how difficult it must be to schedule a visit with a doctor because even though the last class finishes at 1:40 in the afternoon, all of their appointments are around 12:00 or 1:00.

Also, their families put huge burdens on them at the young age of 18. Every class, two or more students get important phone calls from their fathers that they have to take lest their father get angry. On the one or two occasions that I've questioned a student, he showed me his father's name clearly written in Arabic to show me who was calling.

Even with all they have to deal with, a majority of the students step up and do what they have to. Even though the ideas of currency exchange and ratios were a little difficult for them, I was pretty happy with the results of the last quiz. Right now, we are studying how to add hours and minutes and apart from a few students, they're OK with that.

This week is Independent Learning Week in which the students don't have to attend classes, but they have projects for each of their courses. Based on the reaction from some of my students, I think that the project we gave them might have them a little overworked. They have to take 10 quizzes online covering the math that they learned in the first semester. Each quiz takes about 15 minutes so that's two and a half-hours of work. That may not sound that bad, but when you take into consideration that we're expecting them to remember material from the first semester such as changing fractions to decimals and rounding, it gets a bit ridiculous. We DO give them the chance to take the quizzes as many times as they want and take their best score, but that takes more time...time they certainly don't have.

If you're thinking that being a college student at my school is all work then you'd be wrong. A few weeks from now, the English department has a treasure hunt scheduled for the students. From what I understand, the students will be looking for clues scattered around the building. While I don't know the full details, I DO know that there is a Disney movie scheduled for afterward. Unfortunately, I have a Math conference to attend that day so I'll have to find out what movie it was later.

Even with all the work, I'm happy to have the job I do. A lot of the students are very nice people and genuinely work hard. Teaching at this school reminds me of when taking Physics in college. Most of the people in my class didn't take it very seriously. There was an Indian man who taught us who I imagine had to work very hard to get to where he was. Looking back, he must've thought that we were lazy and pampered. Compared to how hard he probably had to work in his life, he was right. It's all a matter of perspective.

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