03 February 2009

Last Week of the Semester

This Thursday will be the last day of classes for me. The last official day of the semester is on Saturday. In the last couple weeks I have not been up to much other than preparing for the semester to end.

On Saturday, January 17 there was supposed to be an excursion to the Bavarian city of Passau, an attractive community that sits at the confluence of three rivers. Unfortunately, too few people registered and the excursion was canceled. Instead of traveling I spent the day lounging around Eichstätt.

With the semester coming to a close there is a lot of additional responsibilities I have to take of for my classes. For the third to last sessions of all my classes I asked my students to bring in and submit their Schein, the German certificate of successful completion of a college course on which I will write a student's final grade. I admit, the process is somewhat confusion; however, when the third to last day of classes came, I was reminded well of just how many people don't listen to basic instructions.

First of all, the Schein had to come from the Sprachenzentrum, or the Language Center, the faculty which offers my classes. Several students brought certificates from the faculty of their own major. Next, there are two basic kinds of certificates, Teilnahmerschein and Leistungsschein. The first is for students who merely need proof to show regular participation for a course, while the second is for those who actually need a grade for the course. Receiving a grade for the course allows one to also receive university credit for the course. Naturally, there were those who tried to give me the wrong version, and I had to explain the concepts of credit and grades. I explained all of this on the front end, but nonetheless some students still managed to not impress me with their listening skills. In the end though, I suppose they could always offer the language difference as an acceptable excuse, but I would still have my doubts.

During the second to last sessions, my students had to fill out course evaluations. It will take about another week until I see the results, but I expect them to have written good things about the course and me. I did remind one class that I brought them candy for Christmas.

Last Thursday, in American Culture, we discussed the South. This was the last lesson for our discussions on American cultural regions, and was one of my favorites from the whole semester. Judging by their laughter, I would say the students enjoyed it as well, especially my example of Southern American English, to which they applauded--acutally, the German equivalent of knocking on their desks.

Two of my classes, U.S. Current Events and Debate and Discussion, ended on Monday. Most of the students thanked me for the semester, and hopefully without a hidden motive. I will say that it was a little sad to know that my Mondays henceforth will not begin with the same group of people.

There was one fairly funny incident that occured Monday in U.S. Current Events. A student form Ukraine was giving her presentation on U.S. foreign policy. Following my requirements, the students for this course had to speak for at least 15 minutes. However, the Ukrainian student continued until 20 minutes, until 25 minutes, until 30 minutes, and on. The end didn't seem to be in sight anytime soon, but as it was the last day of class and I had nothing else planned, I let her go on. At one point she asked the class why America practiced a policy of isolationism in the beginning of the twentieth century.

After a few answers from the other students, I offered the following as a light-hearted answer: "We (America) were tired of Europe." The student immediatly began racing through the slides of her presentation. The other students in the room had looks of surprise and shock on faces lacking any glimmer of smiles. Slightly perplexed, I repeated myself. The room erupted with laughter.

Apparently all of the students had understood, "We're tired of hearing you." I quickly clarified my words, but it took several minutes until we could calm down and return to the presentation. The student spoke for about another fifteen minutes before I asked her to come to a conclusion.

American Culture and English Conversation on U.S. Current Affairs end this Thursday. American Culture students will have to write an essay as their final exam, but given permission to use their notes, handouts, and an English dictionary I do not expect them to have a difficult time.

I have started to calculate final grades for all of the classes where already possible. Sometimes I find it hard to give the student the grade that I know he or she deserves considering that I see him or her so often outside of class as a friend around Eichstätt. Hopefully they will all recognize that I was only being fair.

I have also been fighting a cold for the past week. It likely came about after I spent a couple hours retracing my steps in freezing weather around Eichstätt searching for a lost glove. The next day I traveled to Ingolstadt in order to shop in the city's department and clothing stores for a replacement pair of gloves; the additional walking around likely didn't help. Fortuantely, my body finally seems to have beaten back the microscopic invaders.

I will try to turn in all of my grades and other necessary paperwork by Saturday. After that, my semester is officially over and I can enjoy the semester vacation.

Stay tuned for an additional post about the last week of the semester and the end of my classes.


Anonymous said...

I hope you don't grade them too hard! Are you planning any trips in your time off?
What about posting a picture(s) of your classes? Will this be doable?

Lieben sie sie

Nick O. said...

Vati-O: Of course I have plans, but nothing firm enough to share just yet.

As said, stay tuned for another post about the end of the semester.