Another semester wraps and I have lost count. Since 2006, when I started teaching, I’ve had years off, years with overloads, and years in between…I suppose that it’s not too far off base to say I’ve had some 30+ semesters of teaching across these 16+ years.
Every semester ends, and it carries with it a bit of melancholy.
Semesters can be intense, truly. Over a span of weeks (as few as three, as many as 16) I and a number of students all work hard and try our best. We usually develop something of a friendship, and I hope in the end that we all learn from each other.
But it’s impossible not to notice that there’s always so much left unwritten, unread, and uncovered. I can only ever assign so much reading and so many assignments and my students, in turn, can only do so much owing to limitations of time (and, I acknowledge, sometimes interest…my more “utilitarian” courses are not always a top-tier choice for my students who are by university regulation forced to take them). At the end of term, I am always moved by how much my students have improved, and how much is left before them.
So I’m taking a few minutes today to collect my thoughts on that topic and to acknowledge all that hard work. I will miss my students – I always do. In teaching them I learn so much about my own writing. I learn so much about teaching, and atop all that, it’s such an excellent opportunity to stay involved in “the culture” generally – to see what people are up to and to break out of my own little world.
I love teaching as a profession, but I can’t recommend it for everyone. It takes a lot out of you. Sure, all jobs do…but I’m hard pressed to say I ever got as emotionally involved in IT or cooking as I do in teaching. Your mileage may vary.
But today I raise a toast of coffee to my students who are going out into the world hopefully a little more knowledgeable, a little more curious, and a lot more ready to write.