Tuesday, May 10, 2011
May 10, 2011 [End of Semester Post 1]: All That We Leave Behind
[With about 150 papers and 60 exams to grade in the next week, I’m anticipating that many of my posts over that time will be quicker hits, reflections on the end of a semester. This is the first of those!]
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to the last day of a semester—and today was the last day of class for two of my five courses, with a third having ended last night; the other two end tomorrow—without some serious regrets for what we didn’t quite get to talk about. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t had great conversations, or even that I see the classes as having failed in any main ways; quite the opposite, I have felt very good about all but one of the 54 classes I’ve taught in my time at Fitchburg State (and the one that felt less good was in my first semester and led to both a new syllabus that is an all-time favorite of mine and to two articles!). It’s just that the kinds of reflections prompted by a last day always entail, at least for me, an awareness of what we’ve been able to do in our 30 or so meetings and what has been left behind along the way.
I’m not complaining about this feeling, though. In fact, I have to say that if I ever felt the alternative—felt that we had nothing left to say, that the semester was ending just in time—it might well be a sign that I need to look for an alternate line of work as well. Because one of the true beauties of this gig is that I get to come back in a few months and start it all fresh—new classes, new communities, new conversations (with some students I already know and many I have yet to meet). We won’t get to everything in any of those conversations either, but I know I’ll love trying to do so.
PS. Any end of semester or year reflections from you fellow teachers (and students) out there?