Friday, May 14, 2010

end-of-the-year blues

(The year, in this case, is the academic year. That's what a year is for me. I don't really follow, believe in, or understand how to use the 12-month calendar. I translate my quotidianity into your bizarre, papist, Gregorian template strictly for your convenience. And I do it fairly poorly, because I don't care very much about your convenience.)

I often get pretty down as the academic year closes. I enjoy the rituals of the spring General Faculty Meeting, and like emptying my email inbox and working my way through The Stack.* But mainly, I dwell on things that went wrong, that I didn't do well, or didn't get a chance to do.

There's almost always unfinished business. I'm not the kind of teacher who just never gets through all the course material, and certainly not the kind that rushes everything in in the last two weeks. Most of my courses I have scheduled out precisely enough. The unfinished business is the business of thinking, and there's never sufficient time for that.

Then there's the inevitable acts of academic dishonesty to deal with, and students who don't do sufficient work to earn a good grade, or who disappear without turning in final papers. Those acts of self-destruction really bother me. Part of it is my desire to see students succeed, but it's also vaguely insulting to me, especially when it feels like I've done far more work in the course than a given student has. Doubly insulting when the student then blames me for a poor grade or for the F earned for cheating. (And yes, that's actually happened, on several occasions.)

I kind of mourn over missed opportunities in classes. I feel ongoing shame and embarrassment over miscommunication or mistakes - sending email with the wrong tone, or misnaming a student, or not recognizing a former student.

Four more class days, ending a week from Monday, and the onslaught of final papers.

1 comment:

Doc Nagel said...

* The Stack (TM) is the result of my organizational practice, which I call the Stacking Method. This is achieved by putting all things of whatever importance on a stack on my work table. By the end of the year, the Stack is often over two feet high.