Monday, April 17, 2006

Cuddles, colonoscopies, and committees

After my second class finished today, as I was packing up to go downstairs, some of the students using the room for the next class started trickling in. One was my Vietnamese student from the class of foreign students I had last year. Her face lit up when she saw me and she rushed over to fling her arms around me. I got my SECOND cuddle of the year from a student there. I don't usually get any! But at least this time I knew what it was for. It was because she misses me. I miss her, too, and hugged her back, wholeheartedly. We clung to each other like limpets. Sometimes it's HARD to let old students go.

She told me she wanted to take another of my classes, but I wasn't teaching any more courses that students of her major could take. I was sorry about that, too. I told her to come early to her class every week if she could, and not to wait if my class hadn't finished - just come in and chat with my new students and me. I'll always be happy to see her, and I know the effect she has on other students. She makes them happy, and inspires them. She won't be disruptive.

In another class, one of the students came to see me afterwards to tell me that she wouldn't be able to come next week, because she - and here she fished out a bit of paper where she'd written it down - had to go to hospital to have a 'bowel camera grind.'

I frowned at the paper, thinking, and pulled out my dictionary.

"Do you mean a colonoscopy?" I asked, and showed her the entry in the dictionary.

She looked at the translation.


I wondered where the grinding came in, but didn't have time to ask, nor to ask which particular dictionary she had used to get that awful translation. I had another class starting soon and had to get down to the teachers' room. All my classes there are in different classrooms, and I needed to drop off some books and papers and collect the ones for the next class. At least they're all in the same building, or next door, and I can get to them all in a minute or two from the teachers' room AND have a break. It's a small school.

I will not get six classes there next year, unfortunately. Mrs Hatayama came in again today and said that she had been informed that part-time teachers were not allowed to do more than four classes a week. She was angry about this, she said, and I have to admit I was a little annoyed, too. I had hoped I could drop a couple of classes elsewhere, and spend more time at the place where the commute is a short bicycle ride. Funny how this four-class rule could be broken in an emergency, like a couple of years ago when a teacher suddenly wasn't able to teach after all. That year I took on extra and had five or six classes (I forget which) because they couldn't find anyone else quickly. The rules can be waived quickly when they don't work for the school, apparently.

Only FOUR? I want my six classes! But it looks like I can't have them even though the person writing the curriculum also wants me to have them. She may be a professor, but she has to stick to the rules.


Oh, well. I suppose I shouldn't REALLY be wanting to be working with her, anyway. She is notoriously unreliable, and I've heard she has caused other part-timers trouble because she likes people and then suddenly decides she doesn't like them after all, and creates problems for them, spreading nasty rumours and so on. I don't really think that would happen to me, though. At another place I work there is someone who is notorious for the same sort of behaviour, and so far I've managed to stay in his good books for at least eight years. I'm GOOD at that. I am FANTASTICALLY good at dealing with horribly unpredictable and unstable people. I seem to have the ability to make mentally weird people feel normal, so that they LOVE me. I apparently have a tattoo emblazoned across my forehead saying TOTALLY HARMLESS which mentally unstable people find soothing and which nobody else can see. This is why people feel free to do mad things in my presence.

I don't think I should be bragging about this.

(The Man says The Sneeze (last post) was an example of my madness-attraction properties, but I don't think it had anything to do with me. That sneeze was a surprise to the guy who did it. Nobody knees himself on the chin on purpose.)

So there goes my perfect schedule. I could have had a PERFECT NEXT YEAR and they've ruined it. If I knew who 'they' were I'd try to do something about it, but I suspect they are the usual suspects - some committee, in which case nobody will take responsibility for anything. When committees decide something it's hard to get it undecided again. Nobody wants to stick their neck out.

Sod them all.

Tomorrow I have my last first day of the semester, at the third place I work. Another early start. Another bunch of new students.

Time for bed.


Wiccachicky said...

Bummer on the extra classes!! :o( You are right though - asking will just get you referred to a committee that doesn't really know anything.

yash gupta said...

Wow...students hugging their teachers? i`ve never heard that before...only from you. thats something I`d not do with any of my teachers so ust be exceptionally good!!! keep it up and good luck "ma`m"

Pkchukiss said...

Well, coming from a shy culture such as mine, you would have to be really nice to have someone overcome the normal awkwardness and to throw your arms around another person.

Radioactive Jam said...

Public schools in our area have some kind of teacher-student "no contact" rule, though apparently it's neither strictly nor consistently enforced. This was one of the reasons my wife (and several other teachers we know) decided to work for private schools.

I don't think anyone gets fired here for returning a hug from an especially happy (or distraught) child, but simple affection shouldn't be incompatible with a professional demeanor and environment.

tinyhands said...

You make me feel normal too.

Radioactive Jam said...

(forgot) I have a doctor's appointment today; I'll ask him about bowel camera grinds.

Anonymous said...

Beware the Vogons....

Badaunt said...

Wikkachicky: Committees are the devil's invention.

Yash Gupta: Strictly speaking she is an EX-student, so maybe that's different...? But she was one of five foreign students, and I was their foreign teacher (i.e. all of us are foreigners here) and I think that created a bond that might not have existed if we'd been in either of our home countries.

Pkchukiss: The hugging thing is surprising to me as well, but I don't really know about Vietnamese customs. Is Vietnamese culture more tactile than Japanese culture, maybe?

I suspect it's just her, though. When I mentioned her name in the teachers' room several teachers' faces lit up. She has that effect on everyone. She makes people happy.

RaJ: I don't know how you could enforce a rule like that when the contact is coming from students, and is innocent. I can't imagine that swatting away a happy student could be considered a GOOD thing...

tinyhands: See?

RaJ (again): How brave of you to ask. I'd be afraid to, in case the doctor offered to demonstrate.

Radioactive Jam said...

Due to an uncontrollable burst of perceived decorum (or possibly semi-unconscious cowardice), I opted to not, in fact, ask. I'm supposed to have another appointment in a couple weeks, and I'll again feel compelled to ask if you haven't solved the mysterious "grind" aspect by then.

Not to put any pressure on you or anything.

Murky Thoughts said...

These guys have a link to an amazing endoscopic video of a parasite infested colon, if you're curious.

Badaunt said...

Oh my, Mr Murky. That was a very interesting link to come home to. Thank you!

Did anyone else who looked at it think it looked like the guy was growing moss in his colon, too? I mean, really - what WAS that green stuff?

(Eek! And also, how ... FASCINATING.)