Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome Back - Summer 2010

I worked a double-shift (8:00 - 12:00 ... FOUR straight hours!) at the Welcome Back Table in the lobby of our building today. Here's the tally of the first-day's questions:

127 - Where is my classroom? / Where is room #...? / Where is building ___?
22 - Need temporary parking pass
9 – Location of restroom
8 - Check schedule (2 of these students were actually here on the wrong day)
4 – Questions about room changes
3 – How do I get to the third floor by the stairs? (NOT a silly question. The main staircase leads into offices at the third floor, so the door is kept locked to keep students out of the office area. There are signs that tell students this, but the signs are small and easy to miss.)
3 – Where do I go to register? (In that office you just walked past, with the foot-tall orange letters that read “Non-Credit Registration”)
3 – Location of bookstore
3 – Need program information
3 – Location of person or program office
2 – Is there a student computer lab in this building? (No, there isn’t.)
2 – Can I apply for jobs here? (Name of building led them to think this was an employment agency)
1 – Where is a close parking lot?
1 – Where to get a student ID
1 – Location of Financial Aid
1 – Location of Cashier’s Office
1 – Location of phone
1 – Location of somewhere to eat
1 – Need name of street
1 – What is this building for?
1 – Vending machine not working
1 – Is this the WD building? (Yes, it is.)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Clever fish

From a placement test essay:

"Sushi is very famous Japanese food and it is made by fishes."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Success strategies

The other day an annoyed Basic English 3 student came into my office to dispute his grade. (This was the second time in a row he had failed the class.) He said there was never any homework and the teacher "not teach me nothin'".

Now, this would normally concern me a lot, except that the teacher in question had been telling me about this student all term -- came to class irregularly at best, never did his homework, was never prepared for class, was sullen, seldom participated, and so on.

So I asked H. to sit down and I called up the spreadsheet with his attendance for the term.

I told him, "Well, it looks like you didn't come to class at all during weeks 4, 5 and 6. And you came only once a week for the rest of the quarter."

He said he actually meant the quarter *before*this last one. I asked if that was the case, why hadn't he come to me before that? I further suggested that he might do better by attending class more frequently and doing the assigned homework. (In teacher-talk, we call these "success strategies".)

Curiously, that didn't keep him from throwing his certificate down on my desk and stalking out.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Don't know what they were looking at ...

... but there was definitely something out there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Self-control is important in this job

A little while back I received an e-mail from someone in the German Ministry of Something-or-other requesting information about one of our Basic English students, who had already returned home to Germany. The official needed the information to determine whether this student was eligible for student health benefits as part of her parents' household.

I replied that this student needed to complete and sign a FERPA (Family Educational Records and Privacy Act) form and return it to me so that I could release the information. Simple enough, yes?


I soon got a response from the official that there was no need for the student to sign a form. I needed to provide the information in accordance with German federal law.

Honestly, at times it's hard to maintain a professional demeanor. I had a terribly big urge to write her back and say, "Um, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but y'all lost the war."

Instead, I politely explained that I appreciated her situation, but I was bound by U.S. federal law. Fortunately, she got the message and agreed to contact the student to have the form signed and returned to me.

Sometimes I'm very proud of my self-control.