Monday, September 08, 2008

Back to School aka Tempest in a Teapot

Oh yeah, school started last week. I was so busy freaking out over the political situation that I neglected to mention it here. This is my sixth year teaching at this school, so I don't get too freaked out about new semesters anymore. (I did have anxious dreams the night before classes started though.)
Enrollments are okay this year. The elementary class was, as usual, very popular and had a waiting list of about a dozen students. As is my custom, on the first day of class I gave the requisite "scary speech" about how much time and effort it takes to learn Japanese, category three language (scroll down for the details), blah, blah, blah, three writing systems, need to be seriously dedicated, etc. A lot of the students registered for the class are seniors, so I asked them specifically to realistically assess whether or not they have the time and motivation the course will require. I thought it was pretty much my standard spiel. Apparently it had a little more impact than I realized because later that day I got an email from my new boss telling me that "several students" had gone and complained to the dean about my "telling them they had to drop the course." WTF?
I was asked how I was going to handle the situation. I said I'd talk to the class again the next morning and clarify what I had said. And that is what I did, making it known to all the class that some of their classmates were totally wimpy crybabies who take things way too personally. I didn't say it like that exactly, but I sure was thinking it. I did let them know that no one had ever complained to the dean about the standard disclaimer of "hard work ahead" before. I'm just glad that class is sandwiched between my second and third year classes. Those classes are used to me and me to them and we have a lot of fun. It's still hard work, but they aren't crybabies.

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