Minutes of our lives
... or rather, our bi-weekly meetings.
- The 1st and 2nd year students will take the College English Test 4 (CET4) on June 19-20, and will take preparatory classes immediately preceeding the exam. Laura will keep us posted on any changes to the teaching schedule these may require.
- Mrs. Wang will be on leave for approximately 10-15 days. We discussed how the problems of 1) internet access and 2) lab supervision should be resolved in the interim. Laura agreed to help put more pressure on the computer company to fix the internet access issue by calling them twice daily, and said it would be possible to arrange for other staff to supervise the computer room 2-3 days a week. Peter emphasized that the room must be up and running within two weeks if the 2nd years are to pass the required CSWE IV learning outcomes, and unless this happens, a complaint will be issued to Shanghai.
- Laura suggested that essay questions in the style of those which will appear on the UC test be given to 2nd years as practice. There are two writing tasks on the UC test: discussion, and description.
- John emphasized the need for the sign being created for the computer room to be proofread, both for mistakes and to revise previously ambiguous wording.
- In addition, John offered to create a reading and writing exam to be used as an entrance exam for prospective students of the joint program.
- We discussed the tension between Peter and Mr. Liu stemming from the post May Holiday weekend schedule changes. Peter was upset that Mr. Liu had complained directly to Shanghai before the matter could be fleshed out internally. Laura told us that Mr. Liu never intended to call our work ethic into question, and was mainly concerned about the issue of "management of the students". Laura further related that in her conversation with Mr. Liu, she asserted that the decision to allow the proposed changes to the schedule was made by herself, in line with the responsibilities so delegated to her.
- Laura asked Rob and Bino about what should change to make the joint program a more attractive employer of foreign teachers. We said:
- Higher Salary: must be competitive with going rates in Changsha and the rest of the country, and set in view of the extra workload required by the program
- Denis: must be removed
- Responsiveness: problems with the facilities such as in the office (toner cartridges, photocopying, etc.) must be dealt with immediately, without delay
- Outreach: activities should be arranged between the Chinese teachers and their friends and the foreign teachers to make them feel included and well cared for, as well as to improve the lines of communication
- It stopped raining, so we ended the meeting.
- Laura told us that the school radio organizers would be happy to let us give a broadcast, provided it were previously recorded. We agreed this was not ideal and expressed a desire to contact them directly. Laura will give us their contact information.
- Laura felt that the Guilin trip was a success on all fronts, and asked Bino and Rob to offer some feedback about it.
- Laura stated that for the first years, attainment of CSWE IV would be the only prerequisite for acceptance into the USQ degree program, i.e. no entrance exam comparable to the UC test would be necessary. We agreed that a clarification of the contract terms is in order.
- We resolved several computer room issues:
- Effective immediately, the computer room will be open every afternoon for student use, either from 2:30p-5:30p, or 3:00p-6:00p, as long as no other classes are being held there. Ms. Wang's photocopying duties are to be completed in the morning so that she may supervise the computer room in the afternoon.
- As far as possible, classes will not be permanently assigned to the computer room so that classes may be held there on the occasions that computer use is part of the classwork.
- A bilingual sign specifying computer use rules will be made and posted in the computer room.
- The problems with accessing international websites using the computer lab computers will be resolved by May 10.
- Persistent documentation regarding the computer room's hardware setup will be archived and made readily available.
- We agreed to discuss the printer issue in the future.
- We agreed that installing whiteboards in both the Chinese and Foreign offices would facilitate communication.
- We reiterated that while we in no way wished to blame the Chinese staff for the lack of notice about the Saturday day of work (2004.4.17), a week's notice will be required for any similar cases in the future.
- There was some tension on the issue of working May 8th and 9th after the May holiday. We reached the compromise of holding a directed video class on both evenings.
- We were much happier with our shared involvement in the hiring process this time around. We asked that in the future a WordNet:cv be obtained before the interview is conducted, and that also more prior notice be given.
- Ms. Tan will help us set up a meeting with Mr. Liu to resolve the computer room issue as soon as possible.
- We agreed that one aspect of improving the hiring process and increasing involvement among the foreign directors of study is to obtain the resumes of potential candidates for perusal by all before beginning the interview process.
- We were told that next Monday's classes are being shifted to this Saturday because accreditors of some sort will be coming to examine the program. We made clear that in the future we must be given at least a week's notice for any suchlike scheduling changes if we are to be expected to follow them.
- We were told that there will be a pre-Guilin pep rally meeting for all first year students on Wednesday at 7:30pm.
- We requested and were promised that in the future, written excuses by students must be written in both Chinese and English, and stamped by Mr. Sun or a similar authority before we can accept them.
- Laura said she can help us arrange a morning radio show stint.
- We agreed to add an extra English Corner session in the week after the Guilin trip for any teachers who were unfortunate enough to have missed it for that reason.