Another semester is coming to a close.
You have stacks of exams and papers to grade, final grades to calculate.
You have holiday shopping to finish, pending travel plans and family obligations.
You’re tired, and cold …. maybe you have a cold.
At this point in the academic year, it’s easy to feel worn down, easy to feel you didn’t live up to the high hopes you had, only four short months ago, for the deep, transformative learning you were going to foster in your students. In this last stretch of grading, it can be tempting to read students’ papers and exams for what isn’t there – to focus on where they fell short.
But I find that it’s more interesting to read for what is there, to look for traces of all that your students have learned, how many things they can synthesize, how far they’ve come in four short months. It’s even more interesting to imagine what they’ll be able to do next, beyond this semester and this one course, because they’ve learned these things.
This week, as you finish up your grading and begin to recover from the fall semester, I hope you’ll play “detective” while reading your students’ work. Identify concrete things you can see them doing, and think back to the concrete things you did to get them there. See if you can identify what you’ve learned along the way.
The evidence that you’ve had a transformative effect on your students is all around you this week, in the stacks of exams and papers and projects. See the act of reading them as a small reward. Let it carry you into next semester with renewed energy and passion for teaching.
From everyone in the Reinert Center, we wish you a restful, peaceful season.