I know I've been letting off a little steam here lately about the stresses that come at the end of the semester. Without forgetting those, I want to talk about the joys of the end of the semester.
Today my first year writing class worked on proofreading their final research essays, and turned them in. In addition to proofreading each others' essays (which they do backwards, one sentence at a time, using sticky pads to mark things so the writer can make neat corrections), I asked them to write answers to a couple questions on the back of their packet (which also includes a rough draft or three).
Then they could leave. Some people finished quickly, fast readers, perhaps, or their peers and they had done a good job proofreading already, or written short papers. There was plenty of time, so no hurry. We looked up spellings, and I answered a few grammar and punctuation questions.
At the end, one woman was finishing up alone. I sat across the room, out of the way. She looked up and said, "I'm really going to miss this class."
I asked why, and she told me that it's the one class she has where she actually knows her classmates, and where they do assignments together. She mentioned going to a performance with a classmate for one of the small assignments, and how much fun it was to go with someone. She talked about how she likes working in peer editing and proofreading groups with everyone, and feels comfortable with them.
To be honest, this particular group of students has been overall marvelous this term. Even the nuzzlers were great once they quit nuzzling. And what I've read of their research drafts are really good. If I didn't know how my department and school work as far as grading scales, I'd worry that I'll seem like an easy grader this term. But they've really done good work, treated each other well, and clicked as a group nicely.
One of my stuents said it was another's birthday, and we should sing "Happy Birthday" to her. The Birthday Student begged off. So I said, well, BS doesn't want us to, so we won't, just as I wouldn't want to embarrass anyone else. Another student said, but I'd love it! Turns out he's got a summer birthday, and never had a class sing to him, so we sang to him. Everyone cracked up. That's how well they get along. Birthday Student was out of the spot light, and laughed about singing to someone else.
As I was waiting for the final student to finish up answering her questions, another prof from another department wandered into my class. Normally, profs don't usually wander into each others' classes. But the door was open, and it was obvious that the class was finishing up, so he wandered in and chatted. I don't remember meeting him before, but it was fun to chat about the end of the semester, grading, and teaching stuff.
The other day, I walked from a meeting with someone in the sciences, and we talked about how he tries to teach writing in his classes, how his students find peer editing helpful. We talked about what students learn in first year writing, and how he can use the process stuff we teach there to help his students in his major classes.
Faculty folk seem both taut and loose, stressed about grading, but anticipating the end of classes and the more flexible scheduling of finals.
I'm going to miss this class, but I'm also eager for the new semester to begin.
I finally ordered my texts, so it feels like it's really around the corner. Of course, there are stacks of papers to be graded between now and then. It's more fun to blog than grade, a self-evident truth.