The last days of the semester are always a little sad for me. After all, I have spent 16 weeks seeing, talking to, e-mailing, questioning, testing, groups of students who depend on me for a variety of needs. When I have a particularly strong and involved class of students, the sadness runs a lot deeper. Even classes which have given me a number of problems and heartaches still cause some tinge of sadness.
Stacks of papers – most on time, but a troubling number late – weigh heavily on my mind as I try to deal with each student as an individual, noting strengths and weaknesses and measures of improvement. But on the last day of finals, when I put the last grades into the computer and close the file on that last class, the realization that another semester has ended hits me, and I am overcome with the exhaustion that has been building over the last few weeks of the session. I usually sleep most of the next day. Then, with another semester all too close on the horizon, I must begin again. However, before I must tackle a whole new set of faces, names, and challenges, I have one of the best and most satisfying events before me: graduation.
Seeing former students walk across the stage, some with honors, others thrilled just to be finishing, a sense of accomplishment and of pride erases all the troubles of the just-ended semester. The smiles, the hugs, the requests for photos in the reception room following the ceremony, erase all the troubles of classrooms past.
Now, as the day to start the minimester approaches, the sadness is replaced with the excitement of what awaits me as I walk into a new room for the first time.