Jun 18, 2010


My class is over and will be capped with an exam tomorrow morning. My students are already giving me a headache by:

  • preempting what kind of grade they "need" for their degrees (my only response to that is, "you should have thought about that when you did your assignments and worked harder"),
  • complaining about their participation grades (again, "you should have tried to speak up in class"), 
  • asking at the last minute if they can write their exams in French (and there is no one in the exams office to actually answer this question for me, even though it's well within office hours and it's the exam period right now!), 
  • asking what their grades are so far (it was posted to them yesterday, lazy buggers can't even be bothered to check their email), 
  • waiting till the last minute to do peer evaluations (and finding that it takes a day for the system to generate their password and so they will miss the deadline), or 
  • needling for information about what's on the exam (as if I'm going to tell them). 

This kind of behavior is guaranteed to put me in a bad mood. And that pissy mood will likely translate onto my grading.

On top of all that, I'm required to invigilate my own exam and read through a list of procedures that makes me wonder if this is just an exam or whether we're trying to negotiate for world peace. The red tape at our university is astounding. As a colleague of mine who will be a visiting scholar here in the fall can affirm: he had to confirm for the third time today that, yes, he'd like to be a visiting scholar and, yes, he accepts the terms. It makes me wonder about academia and management structures, and our poor budget that keeps getting cut. How about we cut some red tape and simplify our processes? We could probably get rid of half the administrative functions that way.

The worst part is, that during my exam, the Netherlands will be playing their second World Cup match so I won't even get to see it. Again.

The rest of the weekend looks no better. Hubby is on a long business trip, leaving me with the household until I go on my own holiday. A colleague is insisting on working Sunday morning. And then there is all the grading to do. Plus the convocation (graduation) ceremony next week. 

Ho hum. At least the sun is shining and I think I'll take the dog for a little walk later this afternoon to relieve my aching back.

Jun 10, 2010


I do realize that it's been a while since my last post. I blame the chaotic move of classrooms from our downtown campus to what might as well be Timbuktu for all the difficulty in getting there via public transport. The best thing I can say about it is that it's over, and all of us are glad to be back in our own building. The students can sit in non-cramped, airconditioned theatre style rooms, and I have SPACE to walk around. I no longer have to squeeze my thighs through a row of chairs to make it anywhere, or tiptoe around the front row of students to reach the black board, which the ones on the front left or right were not able to see because they were so close to it.

Back in our shiny new business building, with elevators that work, and the conference book stalls removed. Of course, it wasn't entirely tidied up. My classroom had an extra desk in it and the wrong chair underneath the podium at the front. As a consquence, when I tried to lower the podium, the chair's back crushed the bottom of the podium platform and chipped off several layers of white latex and MDF. Ooopsie. Not my fault!

Where last week was hectic and insane, this week suddenly seems more than manageable to the point where I'm too bored to actually do any of the research that's in a large pile on my desk, awaiting my attention. So instead, I procrastinate by filling my day with "Oh, I need to do that for my class" type tasks.

In the meantime, I've also reached the very last week of my Francais 5 course, and am being examined for whether or not I deserve to pass. The instructor grouped me with two of the less good students in class. Not ideal. I had strategically sat down next to someone who speaks decent French, as it makes the conversation flow much more easily and showcases your skills to the tape that records it. But no. I was unceremoniously lumped with those who still struggle to conjugate the present tense properly and basic pronunciation, let alone construct elegant phrases about what they "would have done, if they had time", or "will be doing in the future". You might argue that I would therefore stand out on tape. Sure. But it also drags me down to their level because otherwise they haven't got a clue what I'm saying. Tonight's the last part of the exam. TFTO.

My students are now doing their group presentations which means my life is easy and consists of nodding and looking awake. And then giving some sort of grade. I've decided this time to give feedback to the class as a whole; it saves me a lot of repetition, and everyone benefits from consistent information disclosure --- looks like I learned something after all from my investor relations past.

Their final exam is Saturday the 19th, followed by a convocation ceremony on the 22nd. After that ... it's Vegas bay-bee!