Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Week 2: Settling into the Semester

My Bright and Shiny Students

This second week of the semester marks the first week in which we hold all classes, labs, and office hours.  Students are also finalizing schedules.   We are beginning to know how the semester will feel and be.  It will be a busy one for me again.  

I have two admissions to make.  First, I needed another week of vacation.  Here in Doha, unlike the U.S., we only have about two weeks of vacation between semesters.  This job is more demanding than teaching law in the U.S., so I miss those extra couple of weeks to rest and catch up.  Of course, I created some of my suffering by traveling to Malaysia and Taiwan during the break and then having to nurse a respiratory infection when I got back.  So, as we move through the next two weeks, I plan to assume we are all feeling a little sluggish.  

Here's my second admission.  I've got great students in both sections.  They are all bright and shiny, and I can't wait to see what they will do over they semester. 

My male section consists of several older students who also work and have families.  They pack all their classes into two days of the week.  Last night, we had a lab from 5 to 6:50 p.m.  I was sure I would have a hard time keeping them awake and engaged.  Instead, they brought a lot of energy to the room.  

My female section is predictably prepared and focused.  I love the opportunity to build relationships with each one of them.  They killed (I mean really killed) the practice exercise on quotation marks.   They also zipped through the lesson on legal research finding the Qatari trademark law in two databases with ease.  I see them in an hour to discuss the different types of legal systems.

As it turns out, Qatar has one of the most complex legal systems in the world.  It's a mix of common law, civil law, Muslim law, and customary (or tribal) law.   That system reflects the country's colonial history and its geographic location.  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week 1: Starting Again

A New Semester Comes to Qatar University

Today, I am teaching my first class in my fourth semester at QU.  In other posts, I have described my students and how much I love and respect them here.  Each semester, of course, brings new students with new challenges, fears, motivation, grit, and desires for success in the class.

I always "hold space" for what will unfold over the next several months.  I never make assumptions, because the classroom is a dynamic place that depends on me, but also on the leaders and pacesetters in the class. It also depends on the students who struggle to grasp legal writing in English as a second language.

Here's wishing us all a happy, demanding, and successful semester.

* I have permission to use the photos included in this blog.