For the last several weeks, I’ve felt – and many SLU faculty have affirmed this sense – that the end of the semester was both speeding at me like a locomotive and slowing like an unwinding watch. Some days, it was hard to believe May was actually here; others, it seemed the semester would never end. And yet, here we are: last days of class and final exams and graduation ceremonies are upon us. It’s been a long and productive year. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for a somewhat slower pace.
Whether you’re about to depart St. Louis for the summer or gearing up for summer session courses, I hope you’ll find a spot of quiet this summer, a space and an occasion for renewal.
The verb renew has many layers and meanings, as the OED suggests. While we most commonly think of renewal as “making something new” or “taking on fresh life,” it also can mean “to restore to the same condition as when new, young, or fresh,” and “to reawaken, to revive.”
As you reflect on your teaching from this year – what your students have said in evaluations, what they’ve shown in their classroom contributions – I hope you’ll remember a bit of what it was like to be a “new, young, fresh” teacher. None of us wants to stumble as much as we did in those early days of teaching, but we do want to reconnect to the energy we felt then, when all things were possible.
At our spring Certificate Ceremony last week, Dr. Paul Lynch reminded us that, even when we are exhausted and frustrated by the semester that is, there is always next semester, when we’ll be fresh, get it all right, inspire our students to greatness. For those of us who teach as a labor of love, as a calling, it is essential that we take time out between semesters to search for a little renewal, to rekindle and reawaken our early passion for teaching.
As you close out the 2012-2013 academic year, we wish you renewal, and maybe even a little rest. If you find yourself in need of new insights or perspectives on your teaching, stop by and see us. We’re here all summer – and all united in a single location now, in Pius Library, 2nd floor – and we’d love to help you reignite your passion for teaching. And keep an eye on this blog: we’ll be posting short reviews and summaries of research on the art and science of learning throughout the summer.
PS: for those in need of a more concrete jolt, there’s still time to apply for one of our Try It! Summer Mini-Grants.