What Do You Do with All Your Free Time?
This week, I thought I would walk you through a typical work day for me at NPU. Since today is Tuesday, I will describe what Monday was like.
7:00 a.m. I got up and wrote a test for my Pronunciation class. Then I ate cereal and drank a cup of instant coffee. (It is not so bad. It tastes like French Vanilla Café.)
8:15 a.m. I started walking towards the Old Campus. This is about a mile from my apartment (which is in a nearby complex also owned by the college).
8:35 I stopped off at my favorite copy center and mimed that I would like forty five copies of an article I planned to use in my writing classes. Then I printed the test I just wrote and the make-up test I need to give to two seniors over lunch. I check my phone, and I don’t have time to get Tuesday’s test copied and make the bus, so I decide to wait until evening for that.
8:50 I got on the 9:00 bus for the new campus.
9:50 I got off the bus near the cafeteria. On Tuesday and Friday, I take the 7:00 a.m. bus, and then I eat breakfast on campus. But by the time I arrived on Monday, they were done serving it.
9:51 I realized how lucky I was. The bus arrived in good time, and I have time to walk to the coffee shop by the library before I need to be in my classroom.
10:00 I used the only Chinese I really know (the words to order hot coffee to go) to get two cups of coffee. Then I used the western toilet that has toilet paper and soap before heading to my teaching building. I have become accustom to squat toilets like the ones elsewhere on campus, but I take every opportunity to avoid them.
10:20 I found Jeremy and gave him his cup of coffee. Then I went to my classroom and slid a little white card into the teaching station. It turns on the computer. The computer projects onto a smart board, so all of the students can see it pretty well. I have figured out how to navigate the Chinese characters on my computer screen by remembering where things are. I use PowerPoint to project my lesson plan and pace us through the class. We don’t have a learning management system and my access to the internet is very limited, so PowerPoint and screen shots have become a standby for me when teaching. (I have never used them in the classroom prior to teaching here.)
10:30 The bell rang. Because this is sophomore writing class one (the good class), all of the students are in their seats. We discussed their editing drafts of a paper in which they classified three common grammar errors they notice other people make. I led them through an activity where they replaced boring transition words with more interesting ones. Then the students peer edited (fixed) three of their peers’ papers.
11:15 The bell that signals the break rang. (I have come to really like the bells. I didn’t think I would at first.) I went across the hall and took a cup, filled it with hot water, and put tea in it.
11:25 The break ended and I passed out the essay I copied earlier. We voted to read it out loud. This is not typical. We don’t normally read things in class, but a student had asked about models for good writing, so I shared with them Andrew Solomon’s “Advice for Young Writers” from the New Yorker. Looking at this essay took the rest of the class period. I plan to use it as the starting point for the next essay assignment.
12:10 Class ended. I strolled past a beautiful lake towards the mountains. In about five minutes I ended up at the coffee shop where Jeremy had already ordered my lunch. We discussed our classes, and enjoyed hot food that was brought to our table. (When we eat in the cafeteria, we have to push our way in to get food on our trays. It is loud and hard to find a seat.)
12:55 I went back to my classroom an hour early so I could give a make-up test to two seniors. They both showed up, so that was a success.
2:00 It was time to start sophomore writing class two. They are a good class, too. However, several of them forgot to print out their papers. In this class, we do everything we did in the morning class.
3:40 My class ended. Normally I race to catch the 4:00 p.m. school bus back to the Old Campus. This time, I met Jado, a friend from Rwanda, and he told me about his education at NPU and in Rwanda as we drank more real coffee at the coffee shop.
5:00 I almost missed the school bus, but I made it on the second one. I am told that they will keep bringing buses as long as faculty are waiting. The same cannot be said for students. They often have to wait for hours to catch a ride between campuses.
6:20 I got off the bus at the last stop on the Old Campus. I messaged Asher to come meet me at the copy center. There I finally had time to copy the test I planned to give on Tuesday.
6:40 Asher and I made our way back towards the RT Mart (think Walmart) where we collected food for dinner.
7:15 We made it back to our house, where Jeremy (who rode the 6:00 p.m. bus) is already waiting. We cooked dinner, and prepared for our Tuesday classes. Then we went to bed early in order to get up and catch the 7:00 a.m. bus to do it all over again tomorrow.