Monday, August 20, 2012

Yom 1

Last week was full of interminable ice tea fueled meetings, the low point of which was being read aloud to from the online faculty handbook, and the high point of which was a useful discussion about lower division language assessments.  The weekend was full of scheduling, as I've found it's better to plan out my daily homework schedule ahead of time before I get too caught up in the semester.  It also involved some serious struggles with the course management software grade book (what the hell kind of grade book doesn't have grade categories?! Blackboard and Angel, I am so sorry I ever complained about you).

Today was the first day of classes here at Andalus U*, which feels more like my official debut as Ostaza Shedding.  I'm teaching Arabic 101, which I haven't taught for a while, and I'd forgotten how lovely and enthusiastic 101 students are, when they are just really excited about Arabic and no frustration has set in.  In fact, I'm still hyped up from their energy, despite last night's insomnia (I can never sleep the night before classes start) and an evening dance practice.

Of course, the downside of 101 is having to explain to native speakers (not heritage speakers) that no, they can't take 101 to raise their GPA.  No, 101 is not just tests you can take, and in reality you will probably die of boredom (or at least fail the homework) if you have to spend an hour clicking through alphabet drills in your native language.  Yes, I know you have to take a second language, but Arabic is not a second language for you, and thus it doesn't fulfill the requirement.  Also, it's probably not a good idea to tell someone you want to take her class to raise your GPA.

Speaking of boring alphabet drills, I'm also quite excited that the Arabic textbooks now have a companion site where students can complete the drills online and thus save me from grading piles of mind-numbing drills where they need to listen and distinguish between haa and 7aa or taa and 6aa.  Pedagogically, this is also of great benefit, as the students get instant feedback on their work, rather than waiting until I correct it, at which point they never go back to listen again.  Things have come a long way since I went through these same books on cassette tapes . . .

* Yeah, I couldn't resist.  I mean, the fountain in my apartment courtyard is an Arab star.