Me, planning next semester's syllabus.

It’s finals day here at Fort Davis. This means that although I don’t really have that many students this semester, I’m spending the day surrounded by final projects, two copies of my class’s final student newspaper, my attendance book, a collection of pens, two cold cups of coffee and random pieces of paper that have been living in my bag this semester.

I don’t post much about my job as an adjunct professor at a local community college, mostly because I don’t want the kind of trouble that comes from writing about the workplace online. But I don’t think any harm can come from posting my feelings about the end of the semester, which are always bittersweet.

On the one hand, the semester always ends exactly when it needs to. Right when the pressure is the highest, and people start getting the flu, and everyone’s motivation has flat-lined, bam! No more classes. We have finals and then we’re outta here! Woohoo!
On the other hand? I always end up missing my students. Especially the ones who are going off-campus for good, graduating or transferring from community college to a four-year institution. I’m happy for them, but I’m sad to see them leave.

I was unprepared for this feeling when I started teaching three years ago. When I was a college student my own reaction to the end of the semester was a big, unmitigated YAY! Granted, things were busier for me then –  I was taking five and six classes a semester, working two on-campus jobs and working as a college newspaper editor at the time. I used to say good-bye to my professors with abandon. I cut them loose the moment I walked out of the final. My thought was that they would never remember me anyhow – they had so many other people to teach, why would they remember who I was? Until I ran into a former prof and he remembered me. Moreover, he was pleased to see me and interested in what I’d done with my life. And now, when I run into former students, and they’re happy to see me, or when one of them emails me with a question, I find that I am always ridiculously pleased. If I knew what an awesome feeling it to be contacted by a former student, I would have contacted more of my teachers. Actually, it’s probably not too late for that.

All right. Enough blogging from me. Back to the finals. I’ll be writing more about teachers  – although not college teachers – tomorrow. Tomorrow, I’m writing about nuns.


6 thoughts on “Finals.

  1. So true…..
    Many years ago, a woman approached me and asked me if I remembered who she was. In an instant, I was transported back to 6th grade…..

    “Of course, I do. You are Mrs. Sexton,” I said without hesitation. She smiled and seemed pleased that I had remembered her.

    For several years, until her death, we exchanged letters. It was an unexpected gift to reconnect with her and receive notes about teaching, my hometown and other news.

    • It’s wonderful that you kept up a correspondence with her. It’s kind of wonderful to reconnect, as an adult, with the people who taught us as children. It’s like getting to know them twice.

  2. I occasionally go back to visit my grade school and it’s always great to run into the few teachers from my era who are still there. Last time I was there, I saw my fourth grade language arts teacher – who is still teaching in middle school – and he asked me what I was reading these days and whether I still liked sci-fi. I was in his class for six months in 1988, so it’s amazing to me that of the hundreds of students he’s taught over the years, he still remembered not only that I was a bookworm, but also what kinds of books I liked.

    On another visit, shortly after graduating from college, I had a chance to talk to my middle/jr high history teacher, an amazing woman from whom I learned how to take notes, write exam essays, and enjoy history. I took the opportunity to let her know that I had chosen to major in history in college because of her. She also remembered me and seemed very pleased to hear about my degree, and I was glad to be able to tell her how much I appreciated her.

    I think I was blessed with great teachers, at all levels of my educational career, and I am grateful for all of them. 🙂

  3. Wow. It’s incredible that a teacher that had you for six months could remember so much about you and your reading material of choice. I’m always amazed at the things teachers seem to remember about me. When I ran into the two nuns who were principal and eighth grade teacher at my grammar school, I was kind of horrified that they knew all about my antics. I mean, neither of them were even in the classroom with me – I went to eighth grade at a different school. But these two women knew more than I would have thought possible.

  4. Aww, I liked this post a lot.
    I’m one of the rare MFA candidates that is actually pretty excited about being able to use my degree to TEACH college once I graduate. Obviously I have many more goals and aspirations of what I’ll do after Enders is over, but I really can’t wait to be a professor.
    And I’m glad your semester is over!

    • I totally recommend teaching! Being a professor – even an adjunct – rocks. I love it. Even as they give me gray hairs, my students keep me young. And I re-learn my subject material every time I teach it, which is very cool. And you know, I think you’d be very good at teaching college level students. You have the personality required to keep the attention of a roomful of students. And sometimes that’s half the battle.

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