We had our last day of classes yesterday. Owing to a very peculiar scheduling plan devised (of course) by a committee, although yesterday was actually a Tuesday, it was designated an “extra Monday” to make up for “losing” a day of Monday classes to Thanksgiving (so much for the concept of a day off — must everything be weighed and measured?). Anyway, that meant two days of Monday classes in a row to bring us to the end of term. As I am not giving final exams in my courses, I now have a lull in immediately pressing teaching-related activities until the final essays come in, the first batch on Friday, the second on Sunday. Then I have to dig in and get through them all, and then do all the final record keeping so that I can compute and submit final grades.
I wrapped up my classes feeling pretty satisfied about how they had gone. In some ways it wasn’t a terribly demanding term, as I was teaching just two classes, and both were upper-level ones as well as ones I’ve done more than once before. That turned out to be a good thing, though, because it was a difficult term in other ways as I pursued the appeal of my promotion case and then waited for the outcome. More than once I felt, as I had back in the spring term when the case first started going badly, that teaching was my salvation. This term my seminar on the ‘Woman Question’ went particularly well (I thought, anyway) the first day I had to teach after learning the bad news: I was in a pretty deep funk when I came into the room, but the students were so well prepared and engaged and full of intelligence and humor that they just lifted me right up — and it meant so much to me that I told them so the next time we met, because I don’t know if students realize that, just as we can make a difference in their lives, so too they often make a difference in ours. I was a bit worried that it would be weird for them if I broke the frame in that way, but at the time I had rather had it with being “professional.” (Still, I didn’t tell them why I had been feeling so low–just that I had been, and that they had really helped.) They seemed to appreciate what I said. They really were a great group to work with, not just that day but all term.
Though the cessation of classes doesn’t mean there’s not anything else to do at work (just for instance, today I put some time in organizing the Brightspace site and readings for one of next term’s courses), I usually take advantage of any break in the schedule at this time of year to get some holiday shopping done, especially for things I want to mail out west to my family. I was especially motivated to get as much done as I could today because so far (unlike my family out west, in a rare reversal!) we have no snow to deal with yet. Sadly, that can’t last, and everything gets harder once the roads and sidewalks are wintry. So once I’d taken care of some business at the office, out I went, and had a pretty nice time puttering around at the mall and in the rather more interesting shops at the Hydrostone Market. I’ve written before about the approach we take to presents in our house: to me they are partly symbolic, ways of making tangible the connections between us and the people we care about. I’m always full of thoughts of my friends and family as I look around for little offerings for them, which usually makes it both a happy and a faintly melancholy experience for me as so many of them are so far away. Here in Halifax we do have our own cheerful holiday traditions, though, which help ward off any gloominess that threatens: this weekend, for instance, we had ‘Advent Brunch,’ and I expect we’ll put our tree up next weekend.
I don’t expect I’ll be quite done with my grading by then, but my goal is to be industrious enough every day next week that I don’t feel guilty relaxing with some Baileys and a book (perhaps one of the three I’m supposed to be reviewing this month) in the evenings.