Not bicycles for once. Student cycles.
We get a new influx of students every year; they start as first years, and if all goes well, graduate in four or five years with a good education, changed in important ways through our work.
Each semester has cycles, too. There's the introductory phase, when I'm trying to learn names, get classes going, introduce students to my expectations and class style, get a sense of them as people and students. Then there's the hard work phase, work in class, writing work, grading work. And finally, towards the end, for most students, there's a short time when they're really having fun in class, when they know what's expected and know enough of the material to do a higher level of intellectual work. Then there's the final work, papers, exams, whatever. And it's all over, and we start again with new classes.
Mostly, cycles are great. When good students graduate, I know there will be more good ones in the incoming class, and I look forward to getting to know them and doing my small part in their education. The rounding of the academic year has its pleasures, though grading is not one of them.
But cycles are also frustrating because students make the same basic mistakes endlessly, just different students. Okay, so we aren't supposed to talk about mistakes, but let me get away with it for a short moment.
At some point, most students hear certain things often enough and/or care enough that they know the basic academic writing conventions. But each semester, new students aren't there yet.
I feel like I've endlessly written
"Periods and commas go inside quotation marks." (at least in the US; if you're elsewhere, your conventions differ. But it's no more difficult to learn than which side of the street to drive on!)
"Italicize or Underline play titles."
"Use quotation marks for titles of short poems."
The fact that I'm grading stacks of 30+ papers at a time means that I'm writing the same thing over again, though not to the same student. So for the student, it's maybe new information. But for me it's hellish repetition.
And I know, there's a point at which marking conventional stuff just doesn't work, but I can't get myself past it with lit papers somehow.
I "know" my colleagues teach things like topic sentences in paragraph writing in our first year class. Okay, I hope they do. But I still feel like I have to endlessly talk about paragraph writing. I know it's a matter of practice and such, and that it's not something most people learn instantly when they hear it once, but I'm still frustrated.
In academic blogs, I think there's also a cycle. And now, with finals and such coming up for those of us on the semester system in the US, we're coming into the heights of grading whining. Ugh.