Monday, May 9, 2022

F is for Finals Week

It's a little after 9PM and I'm stepping away from the grading, but my mind is still running on overdrive. I'm usually good at managing my stress, or reframing it as the adrenaline I need to get through what needs to be done, or, at the very least seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

But right now all I see are papers. Lots and lots of virtual papers awaiting my input and a grade that will contribute to the grades I need to enter by the end of this coming weekend.

When I plan my classes before the semester starts, they always look manageable. Somehow, though, when I get to the end of the semester, I inevitably wonder what I was thinking. Every semester ends this way, always coming down to the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because I like to end on a high note, I'm going to do them in reverse.

The ugly: The great big pile-up of assignments to be graded. What am I going to do about that? Why, grade them, of course...and then rethink whether or not they're all useful enough to make the cut next semester.

The bad (news): The assignments submitted by students who didn't read the syllabus, didn't follow directions, or inexplicably didn't show up for class or presentations, resulting in a grade that's hard for me to enter (notice I didn't say "give." I don't give them grades -- they earn  them by the work they turn in -- or don't. Sometimes, I wonder whom that sub-par grade upsets more: me or them?

The good: There are always a few gems in the stack, be it virtual or hard copy. The students who produced exactly what I hoped for or perhaps even a little bit more. The ones who struggled at the outset but "got it" somewhere along the way. The ones who stick around for a few minutes after the final presentations to thank me, or send me a kind email during Teacher Appreciation Week.

My students were a pretty varied bunch this semester, and I enjoyed them tremendously. I cannot, however, say the same for the work that awaits me this week but, like anything else, it's a matter of taking the good with the bad.

bboellinger via Pixabay

And the ugly. 

This time next week, I'll have met a new group of students -- my summer session online class. This mountain will be behind me and, before I know it, I'll have another one to climb.

Now I just have to figure out how to make it less steep. 

Luckily, I have a few ideas. I just have to get to the other side of the mountain first.

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