The Finish Line

I don't mind telling anyone that his has been a difficult semester. In addition to teaching a lot more than I should have, I was wrestling with the new core curriculum, teaching an accelerated night course until 10:30 pm two nights a week, and trying to stay a week ahead in the sophomore honors section (a new prep). I would not call this my finest semester, and yet it had its moments. Here are a few good things that happened:
  • There was a young woman in my Introduction to Humanities course who showed up every day and sat listening to the class discussions as if they were the most fascinating subject she had ever encountered. I don't think I ever once saw her distracted or tuned out. A lot of days the interest evident in her eyes kept me going.

  • I growled at a kid in my sophomore honors section that he wasn't working up to his potential and he responded with a serious paper comparing Freud and John Stuart Mill on the uses and abuses of social restraint. I knew he really wanted to impress me and he just needed a push. I was glad to give it to him. He really does have ability.

  • I received a note last week that was tagged on to a final reflection paper in my senior capstone. It told me how much the student really appreciated the course and how she hoped it wouldn't be dropped from the curriculum (the new core makes that a certainty, however). She wrote, "I know not everyone gets what I got out of the class, but I thought I should let you know that you did get through to someone... I appreciate your passion for teaching. I honestly think it is one of the things that made me love this class." To which I reply, "No, thank you. You don't know how much these kinds of comments mean to professors. Really, we are that insecure and needy. You have no idea!)

  • I also had the most affirming tenure review committee anyone could possibly imagine. Thank you, Ken and Greta. You made me feel about ten feet tall (at least for 24 hours ).
But even with these wonderful blessings, I wouldn't care to re-live this semester. So so long, fall 2009. I'm not sorry to see you go. I really hope I haven't left anything important in you.

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