A big part of my job are these Big Brother-style language laboratory type of classes which I sit at the front of the room and watch students listen to articles in English or practice their pronunciation. For a long time I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing in this context. I can technically hear what it is they are listening to and what they say into the microphone. But nothing from my supervisors suggests that I am supposed to actually monitor them. Instructors who have been here for longer have told me that I should regard lab classes as free time and should just go ahead and read or surf the internet or clip my toenails. Apparently I’m basically here to prevent them from stealing the computers in the perpetually-impending class riot. To this I say: fat chance. When the anti-capitalist riots actually start, I’m hauling my American ass out of here as quickly as possible.
One amusing thing about the laboratory classroom setup is that I can see what they are doing on their computers and control their active applications from my central monitor. I suppose this means that I should turn off the internet function on their computers or at least stop them from looking at Facebook during class. In reality, it is much more fun to spy on them. I like particularly when they sign in to the chat feature and talk about me, clueless to the fact that I am watching the entire thing. Yesterday one kid wrote to his buddy about how do-able I am for fifteen minutes or so. My French teenager text-speak isn’t terribly good, but I am pretty sure that he wrote something about how he would want me to keep my glasses on when he (a-hem) was doing something wildly inappropriate to/with me on my desk. I choked on my coffee when I read his little plan and immediately looked up at him, thus totally blowing my cover. I blew coffee-snot out of my nose and he turned beet red. This is excellent evidence as far as I am concerned that these mega-dorktastic glasses that I’ve been sporting this year are working just fine.
In contrast, this morning I am a bit worse for the wear. One of my students just wrote to another: “Is the teacher’s dress on backwards?” Discreetly this time, I looked down and realized with dismay that yes, indeed, I’m sitting in front of a class pretending to be an credible adult, but my dress is quite obviously on backwards.