Well, the semester is over…except, of course, it’s really not yet.
Classes may be over but the grading has only just begun. I teach six courses in the fall semester — three basic composition courses and three orientation courses best described as “welcome to the university, here’s how to not screw up” classes. Despite instructions to the contrary, some still are. Between now and some point next week, I must complete three sections’ worth of portfolios containing four major essays (plus drafts) and at least 10 items of short writing at 2 pages apiece on average. The “how not to screw up” courses involve online quizzes as well as a final reflective essay, attendance points, event points and other material entered into an online website that we had very little training on before we were shoved into using it. It seems to be doing some interesting calculations of its own on the grades that are in the system so far, so that will also be a problem to solve by some time next week.
On top of that is the administrivia that I always seem to forget about. The planning for next semester, for example. Or the report writing so that I can continue to hope for a continued job next year. At this point, though, I think sacrificing a bull would be just as effective. All these things have to be done before the semester is truly over, and I always forget this every stinking year.
Still, this year I’m trying to be kinder to myself and adjust my expectations of what should be expected to completed and when. Energy is always at its lowest during this point in the semester, corresponding with the point in the semester where the most energy is required to see things through to the end. Naturally.
I’m setting reasonable limits on how many portfolios I will complete in a day. I am not even going to bother touching the online grade book mess until the middle of next week. I’m not running myself ragged to finish things before I have to. Much of this I now recognize is driven by being surrounded by student expectations of when things should be available to them (right now). I’m steeped in their culture all semester long, so it was no wonder it was beginning to rub off on me. So sorry that you’re going home on Tuesday, kiddo, but I have ALL WEEK to get my job done. Not busting my ass for you by Monday just because you’re checking out early.
Or, as I put it to my students the week before classes concluded, just because you decided to cram at the last minute does NOT mean I am going to as well.
I am not going to hang on the internet hoping to intercept your 11:25 p.m. email asking how to get started on a project due at 9:30 a.m. the following morning. I am not going to refresh the page every 20 minutes to see if you’ve updated me on your latest excuse. And I’m not going to hunt you down and take your hands and make you put the required drafts into the portfolio. I’m not going to send yet another email reminder telling you that the things listed in the syllabus as part of the course requirements are, in fact, REQUIRED.
I’m not going to borrow trouble this time. Trouble is not very glamorous at all.