Only a week ago I dreamed of finishing up this latest batch of term papers and sending off my students’ grades. But, as the end is here I admit that I find myself a bit melancholy. The feeling always sneaks up on me despite its consistent appearance over the years. On the first day of class it is difficult to imagine that in just a few weeks time I will know my students by name (not i.d. numbers), their interests, read their work, and be witness to the evolution of their thinking. We are part of each other’s lives for such a brief time, and in another couple of weeks I’ll meet my new group of students, forge new relationships and the cycle will continue.
Am I too invested? Well, I can hardly conceive of teaching any other way. In my very early years of teaching a tenured faculty member who sat in on one of my lectures said to me afterwards: “Forget about knowing their names. Focus on your writing.” I distinctly remember nodding my head “yes” politely all the while thinking to myself “Can’t I do both?” I’m glad I didn’t take that advice, for I’ve noticed that when I invest in the students they are more likely to invest in the class. This is the goal, yes?
Learning is about growth, dialogue, and sharing ideas not only fostered by the instructor but by the students as well. It should be a fun, engaging environment, and it should be an avenue to seeing the world anew. I like being a moment of that experience for the students (and hopefully a helpful facilitator of that). Truth be told, I learn a lot from them. I get a plethora of book, movie and t.v. show recommendations, some of which I have then passed on to others.
There are days when I collapse the moment I get home after a long day at the university, relishing that divine instant my feet are freed of shoes and I’m swimming in my oversized comfy clothes. Sometimes my eyes burn from being in front of the computer returning emails and then moving on to read assignments. I consume an unholy amount of coffee to keep my attention sharp. The respite after grading the final exams seems so sweet indeed. But, here I am nearly done and all I can think of is the wonderful time I had these last few weeks at work in the classroom.