There will be crocuses

My 50th semester begins today.  By this afternoon I will be running full speed with barely a chance to look around before April is here.  So how about a few pre-semester  predictions?

Here's what I foresee: the term will begin with optimism and good will.  I will be excited by the classes and the new students. The potential for getting it right will seem boundless.  Then--about four to six weeks in--a slow, methodical descent into disillusion, doubt and self-recrimination will begin. I will second guess everything. What the hell was I thinking having my class read about Tolstoy's existential crisis or Boethius' analysis of the highest good?  What kind of moron thinks that's valuable for budding Health Promotions and Accounting majors?

There will also be periods of frenzied invention as I try to figure out how to engage a roomful of undergrads.  These frenzies will be followed by puzzled, investigative toe kicks at the wreckage.  Why did that bomb?  I don't get it...  Maybe I should have thought this through a bit more...

To be sure, there will be a few good days.  At some point I will be grading a paper in my office and realize that at least this one kid got it.  I will  jump up and wander upstairs to see if any of my colleagues are around.  I'll think someone has just got to see this, but it will be late in the afternoon and everyone will have gone home. I will want to high five someone. I will be wanting to yell my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world, but no one will be around.  So I will slip on my jacket and go home too.

There will also be some bad days. I will bomb due to "winging it" without sufficient course preparation.. I mean really bomb, H-bomb.  Everything I try will be disconnected, disjointed, forced and lame.  Then I will spend all afternoon and most of the next morning obsessively beating myself up over my innate suckosity.  I will wonder whether I am really cut out for this kind of work. 

Late in the semester, however, I will find myself thinking it hasn't been all bad.  There will actually have been some progress--not as much as I would have liked--but progress nonetheless.  And reading my students' final reflections, I will be surprised at how much of the course made an impression on them.  It will be strangely redemptive.

And it will be April.  And there will be crocuses.


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