Sunday, July 30, 2006

Celebrating the End of Summer Teaching

My summer session has ended. Two of my classes ended during the third week of July; the remaining two ended on Friday of this week when I turned in my gradebook. Because the last two classes contained more students, I spent all of the last week grading essays. Counting the prewriting and drafting that I had to grade, I ended up grading something like 120 different items. As one of my professors in graduate school once said, each assignment requires a decision, so that’s 120 different decisions. It’s no wonder that I often want to spend time at the end of the semester not making decisions. My first inclination is to squirrel myself away for a day or two, without leaving the house or answering the phone. I have told myself that I won’t check my campus mail and won’t look in on my online classes until Monday. Any students unhappy with their grades will have to wait.

Since I seldom drink and don’t alter my consciousness in other ways, I relaxed by rearranging my office at home. I still have to unburden my desk from its layers of detritus and file away student essays. But I rearranged some of my bookcases and moved my computer desk a little closer to my regular desk, which is a six-foot length of wood placed over two file cabinets. This file cabinet desk has been a part of my life since 1987. Moving the two desks closer together makes it easier to go from one to the other. No one ever said that the life of a teacher is exciting.

I’ll be entering my twentieth year of teaching when classes start again in three weeks. Much as I might like to get away during this short break from classes, I’m going to wait until it gets cooler. One hundred degree days are forecasted for the immediate future, and it’s not much cooler elsewhere unless I were to fly to Seattle or Vancouver.

I now think of the fall as my favorite season. One of the attractions nearby offers a chance to bask in the fruitfulness of nature. Red Barn Farm sells pumpkins and offers hay rides through the country. I am including a picture of this place so that others can feel a moment of relief from the heat of summer.