Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Patience is a virtue, of which I have next to none!

Today I almost lost the last little bit of patience that I have. I bit my tongue, kept my cool, and didn't snarl at anyone! But it was one of those kinds of days that makes you want to yell at someone!

I am teaching some very eager students from Central America, Mexico and Caribbean Islands who are here on a scholarship. They are very wonderful people, except that their English language skills are very limited. I speak and you can tell by the blank looks on their faces that they have no clue. So daily, I must invent new ways to get my point across.

Now these dear students have only been in class for one week. But I have several procedures that I am trying to set up for the duration of the school semester. One is a procedure for them to record on a computer their pronunciation of a script as a homework assignment. Then they need to save what they have recorded and then send it to me via email. In reality it isn't difficult, but if you don't know what the teacher is saying, it can be a challenge to master all the steps.

I explained what we were going to practice. Then I walked them across campus to the tiny little lab we were to work in. I have 15 students, and the lab had 7 working computers. We could barely fit into the room! They doubled up on chairs, and we began. About half-way through the experience, I began to doubt my sanity of trying this so soon! But, one by one, miracles started to happen, they recorded their short assignment and really got a kick out of hearing themselves speak! Then, one by one, they discovered how to email their sound files. When we were done an hour later, all had successfully done their recording, saved their recording and then sent it to me. I could hardly believe it worked, but I was holding on to sanity by a thread by the time I left the room!

Then another one of our students had to make a dramatic change in the classes she was taking, switching from a day class to a night class on another campus. This was more than I could bear! I had no answers for her questions--"Why did this advisor send me here? Why weren't you here to help me? Why did I have to wait? Who can I talk to now? How will this work?" And then calling folks for answers mid-afternoon yielded mostly voice mail answers. So I got creative, said she should just go down to the other campus, find the teacher, ask the teacher to let her into the class, and then go register. This was all "after hours" for me, since I work part time and had been there since 8, and it was now knocking on 3 p.m.

I definitely earned my 20 pesos today. And I retreated to my sanctuary of the bedroom chair knowing I had kept my cool, got the job done, and didn't offend anyone by blowing up in their faces! The students don't deserve it, no matter how their complicated lives cause us to have to bend over backwards to try to help them out of their messes.

And tomorrow, I get to do it all over!

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