Monday, March 21, 2016

No Sympathy

It's amazing the amount of complaining people do. I also recognize the irony in complaining about people who complain a lot. Most of the time I'm quite sympathetic, since when we get used to doing things a particular way, especially if that way lets us be lazy, we tend to be disinclined to give it up. That said, regularly complaining about the following really bothers me:
  • I really have very little sympathy for people who "aren't morning people" and/or can't get to where they need to be on time. Very few people are morning people. "I'm not a morning person" is not a good reason to not get up when your alarm wakes you. Suck it up, and get moving. Go to bed earlier if you need to, and be the adult you are.
  • On a related note, one of the policies at the high school at which I teach is that if students miss a certain number of classes, or they're late a certain number of times, their grades are converted into NGs ("no grade"). This means they have to attend what's now called attendance school, but which when I was in high school would have been called detention. Students need to pay $5 per session, and if they're even a minute late, they can be denied entrance. (I've been running attendance school this year.) Since students need to pay at the front office, sometimes there are long lines, which means they haven't planned ahead, which means they're late, which means I don't let them in. Students get very frustrated when I turn them away, but if they were on time and/or had attended their classes to begin with, this wouldn't have been a problem. Skipping or being late to school literally does not pay.*
  • Grousing about having to be "with it" at the apparently agonizing early hour of 8 a.m. This is different if you work in an industry that requires working revolving hours, and/or if you're regularly scheduled to work evening or night hours (the medical, customer service, and hospitality fields come to mind, among others), in which case it really is a hassle to be up and with it at 8 a.m. But if your regular work hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or you have a schedule with flexibility, please be quiet.
  • Complaining about having 100 students. I started the year with more than twice that.
I respond to this in a slightly annoyed manner (which I generally keep to myself, except for this instance), because I get up at 6 a.m. five days a week so I can be at school ready to go an hour later. (Contract hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) I do not like getting up at 6 a.m., but the flip side is that 60% of the time, I'm home by 3:30 p.m. (Once a week I don't get home until 7:45 p.m. or later; once a week I don't get home until about 5:30 p.m.) This career entirely my choice and I will not complain about it, which is why I avoid people who complain about how difficult it is to be at work at 9 a.m. or later. If the hours don't suit you, perhaps it's time to find a job whose hours better reflect your ability to get there when you agreed to.

* In case you can't tell, I have a really hard time with chronic lateness; it's one of the things that drives me up the proverbial wall.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Teaching Loophole

Let's see what I can do to clarify an odd situation:

  • Since January 2010, I've been teaching English 1010 (Introduction to Writing) and English 2010 (Intermediate Writing) at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC). I've taught at the Jordan campus; the Taylorsville/Redwood campus (which is considered the main campus); a hybrid in which I taught at an American Express building, with part of the class being held face-to-face, and the other part was held online; and completely online.
  • I now also teach full-time at Copper Hills High School (CHHS). This year I teach 10th grade, 12th grade, and four Concurrent Enrollment (CE) classes (two per semester). This year, those CE classes are offered through SLCC; high school students who want to take these college classes apply for admission to SLCC, and then enroll in one of the English 1010 sections. 
  • So this particular year, I'm teaching English 1010 through CE at Copper Hills through a program offered by SLCC, and English 2010 at SLCC. I'm a SLCC adjunct who teaches both at a SLCC campus and at CHHS.
Today I learned I may be required to take a two-day training on teaching English 2010, since I'll be teaching 2010 at CHHS next year, even though I've been teaching 2010 at SLCC this year. The training coincides with the end of the summer session, which could be difficult given that I'll be teaching 1010 at SLCC this summer. The second day of the training would be held on the last day of my summer classes, and while one of the two classes I'll be teaching is entirely online, the other is a traditional face-to-face class that meets for nearly three hours twice a week, so I'm not sure how I'd swing that.

I'm hoping I can get the training waived altogether. I'll still need to take a two-hour training of an unknown variety, but this will be easier to fit into my schedule than a two-day training.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Meet the Parents

Earlier this week was our second round of parent-teacher conferences. The conferences earlier in the year tend to be busier than those held during the second half of the year; parents want to come meet the teachers,whom they don't know and tend to do so earlier in the year, although I did have some parents make a second visit today.

I wonder how much of a disservice we do our students/children when we panic because for the first time they don't have a perfect 4.0. I absolutely want my students to do their best as often as they're able, but I also want them to learn that it's not possible to do become an expert in everything they do throughout their lives; I want them to be able to handle doing poorly (however it is that's defined) and to know how to ask for help.

All the parents were lovely, polite, and respectful, even the lady who was distressed that her son doesn't have an A, potentially marring his heretofore unblemished G.P.A. Both she and her son were unhappy with the quiz grades being so low, but I explained that I want them to be able to remember details from previous chapters, because sometimes those details are insignificant, sometimes they aren't, and sometimes it's difficult to tell whether a detail is insignificant, if for no other reason than those details help us understand characterization.

On a side note, I continue to have outright unpleasant interactions with one particular student, which is a shame, because I really want to like him but he fights me at every turn and at this point just dislikes me enough to want to transfer out of my class. I'm not sure it will happen -and there's a whole lot I wish I could publicly share about him - but we'll see what happens, especially given that the end of the quarter is coming up.