Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A tale of four emails

We're in our last week of classes here at Northwoods U, and as usual, everyone has spring fever, students are worn writing papers, faculty are bleary-eyed already from grading, and the administration is trying to figure out how we can do ever more with ever less funding.

I just got back from an evening out.

My first year writing students have been frustrating me with absences and what feels like inattention. I feel like I've failed my seminar students by not structuring their time and giving lots more pre-writing assignments to get them focused on papers earlier. And theory, the class I most struggle with has been still more of a struggle. I'm tired and frustrated, and likely to be short with students.

And then, I got some emails today. Now, I got lots of emails, actually, but these stand out:

Someone has a family health crisis. I never had to handle anything nearly this serious when I was his age, and I've come to admire the way he handles himself through things. The only thing I can do to help is offer an extension or an incomplete.

Someone else has a family health crisis. I can't even offer an extension or an incomplete. Extensions offered by people smarter and more well-equipped than myself have failed.

One of my students was in the play I saw tonight, and she was wonderful in it. I saw her afterwards, and told her how fantastic she was, and how proud I am of her, and that we should talk about the play in class because it shares themes with some of the things we've been talking about. She emailed me to thank me for coming, and said that she really appreciated seeing folks from the department there (I went with my usual crowd).

So, just by going to a play, and enjoying myself, I actually managed to do something positive.

It's a heck of a day when the best thing I do for anyone is go to a play.

And, finally, I got an email from someone I used to know well, and whom I'm so happy to be back in touch with. The best thing in my day is a short email from someone who, I'm sure (because I know what she does with her time), did some really hugely positive things today; the email to me was probably the littlest thing amongst all the rest.

I need to go to bed now and think about emails and the day.


  1. I am finished and it feels so good to not have any project pending. Yes.

  2. The last three weeks of a semester are full of dying grandmothers, and such. It's hard for me to keep spirits up, but I often find that advising is very rewarding this time of year. The positive effect, as you related, often comes from outside the classroom. inside ther classroom, I'm just as tired as the students.