Spa Day with Natalie!

Yesterday, the AECP students went on a field trip to the Grand Canyon.  I could have gone with them, or I could have gone to the office to watch a telecast from the 2007 TESOL convention.  Instead, I had a spa day with my sister, Natalie!  Natalie is leaving the country in just a couple of weeks, so I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to spend some time with her.  She has a friend who recently started a business giving facials and beauty treatments, so we made appointments for facials.

I’d never had a facial before.  It was really, really nice!  I always imagined that facials were pure skin-care ordeals, and I never thought of them as particularly relaxing.  So I was surprised when I walked into the room and heard the soft, relaxing music.  The aesthetician put some stuff on my face and massaged my shoulders and arms.  It was a very pleasant way to spend an hour!

2 Monthiversary Celebration!

I have the most thoughtful and romantic husband in the world!  For the past month or so, we’ve been taking turns planning romantic Friday-night dates for each other.  Last Friday was September 21st, our 2-month-iversary.  The romance started on Thursday, when I woke up in the morning and found a big bowl of Hershey’s kisses in the refrigerator.  Dave later confessed that he was planning to hide them around the house, but was worried about the cat eating one and dying.  (It wouldn’t have been so romantic to come home to a sick Darwin on Thursday evening…)  I got home at 3:00 on Friday, and Dave said we needed to go out for our date.  I thought we were going to go somewhere in Phoenix, but Dave surprised me by heading out of town.  We ended up in Sedona, where Dave had reserved a really cool hotel room with a jacuzzi tub in it!! He also brought up a bag with some of my clothes in it, a bottle of wine, and some fun bath salts and bubbles.  It was great!

Our hotel was hosting a car show, so we went to the car show on Saturday morning.  We saw some really old cars!  We were planning to go hiking after that, but it started to rain, so we settled on visiting the touristy shops instead.  It was so great to get out of Phoenix for a couple of days.  So relaxing!

The Point System Revealed

Dave read my post yesterday and told me that I need to explain the AECP point system.  It’s a system for evaluation of the teachers in AECP (not ASU in general; just my department).  Each term lasts 8 weeks.  During that time, each of the lowest level instructors (like me) are observed.  It is a very formal observation worth 60 points.  The observer will look for very specific things in my lesson and will award points depending on how well I do those things.  For example, when I give instructions to students, I’m not supposed to say “Do you understand?”  I’m supposed to make sure that students understand my instructions by asking them to repeat my instructions.  The evaluation sheet is a very long list of elements they hope to see in my teaching.  I’m told that no one has ever earned 60 points on an observation.  Instead, we’re shooting for the minimum score needed to be hired on for another term: 45 points. 

At the end of the term, we all have to submit a report that details all of the AECP activities and professional development stuff we did.  For each activity, we receive 1 point.  These points are added to the points earned from the observation as well as points earned from student evaluations.  The administration adds up everyone’s points and ranks the instructors.  If enrollment is down and someone needs to be let go, the lowest level instructor with the fewest points will not have his or her contract renewed.

The weird thing about the points system is that time-intensive activities are not given more weight than other activities.  For example, at the end of September, we’re taking the students for a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  We’ll leave early in the morning and come home around 11 pm.  If I go, I’ll earn 1 point–the same as if I had attended a 1-hour meeting about computer programs.  I’ll also earn just 1 point if I publish an article, write a textbook and have it published, or attend a week-long conference.

I feel nervous about the point system.  I love teaching at ASU, and I feel that I’m doing my very best.  I just hope that my future employment at ASU isn’t jeopardized my the fact that I didn’t attend that football game yesterday….

Getting Used to ASU

I just completed my second week at ASU, and it was much better than the first.  During my first week, I couldn’t stop wondering why anyone chooses to attend school in such a miserably hot place.  Sure, ASU has some nice programs, but walking around campus is horrible!  Why not go to NAU where the air smells good and you can sit outside on the grass and be cool and comfortable?  This week was a little better for me, though.  The heat didn’t get to me as much (maybe I’m getting used to it?!).  Also, I think most of the nightclub-like attire I saw last week was related to rush week for the sororities.  The students seemed more normal this week.

Of course, my problems with ASU have nothing to do with my job.  I love my job!  My students are really wonderful to work with.  I have some great coworkers, and I’m getting used to the pace of an 8-week term.  I’m teaching a lot, and I feel like I’m improving my skills!  So yay!  Life is good at ASU. 

Tonight Dave & I are going to attend an ASU football game.  I hate watching football, especially when it involves sitting outside in September in Tempe.  It’s an American English & Culture Program (that’s the name of my department at ASU) event, and I’m going to earn a point for attending it.  I have to earn a lot of points to keep my job.  So we’re going.  And I’m going to try my best to have fun.