The end of the term

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As I posted on Facebook earlier this week, “Dear god, why isn’t this semester over yet?”These last two weeks are the hardest time of the year, comparable only to the last two weeks of the whole academic year in the spring.  But the two weeks in May are made a bit sweeter by the warm weather, sunshine and growing things.  In December, there’s only the anticipation of a brief respite before it’s back to the grind.

What’s worse is that this year Thanksgiving came as early as it possibly could, which means there are two weeks of classes after Thanksgiving break instead of one.  For those of you not on academic time, perhaps two weeks seems like no big deal. But in the world of teaching, two weeks after Thanksgiving break may as well be forty years spent in a prison camp.  With a urinary tract infection, if prison camp isn’t vividly painful enough for you.

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The problem is that two weeks is close to the end, but not quite close enough to allow you to believe it’s really going to be over soon.  As a professor, you feel this drag yourself, though the students seem incredulous sometimes that all in all you’d rather be at home in your pajamas, too.  And of course the students feel it, which means that the chances of extracting any meaningful work from them becomes mountain-moving in its sheer capacity for complete frustration and exhaustion.

Your students do not want to show up to class.  And then they don’t particularly want to show up on time.  They don’t want to pay attention. They don’t want to do the readings.  They don’t want to talk about the readings.  They don’t want to write papers or take exams or generally open their eyes in the morning.  And you are RIGHT THERE WITH THEM, but you have to pretend you’re not.  Conveniently, it’s during this exact moment that we ask our students to fill out course evaluations, the forms upon which many of our livelihoods depend.

Here’s the part where normally I would offer some mildly clever solution, or at the very least, some solution which I believe is mildly clever.  But there is no solution to the drag that is the end of the term.  There is only the end.  May we all find a frothy beverage waiting for us when we get there.

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