I crafted my syllabus from scratch this semester, and it was also my first time teaching full-time, as opposed to coordinating a program full-time and teaching a class a semester. The workload is definitely different.
I forgot to make portfolios due a week before finals. Since I forgot this, I made portfolios due on final exam day. Since I made portfolios due on final exam day, I have spent the past 72 hours grading over 200 papers. This is, in a word, exhausting.
Among those papers, though, were students' final reflections on the class. All of my classes are developmental English classes, and many of my students come in with negative writing experiences in their history and skepticism in their eyes.
While I'm reading one of the very last portfolios this morning, eyeing the clock as it ticks away to the deadline for grades to be due, I come across this line about the student's experience with our class:
"[I]t felt like an elephant slapped me in the face with his trunk. The pain has settled and now the learning has begun."
I probably wouldn't have described my own pedagogical practice as one that inflicts pain, but for many of these students, writing can be painful. I loved this student's description, and I loved the progress that I saw in so many of them.
I am tired, but I am a mighty elephant. And I am now on vacation (which means I get to finally pick back up on that PhD exam reading.)
Photo: Greg George