This Week In My Classes: It’s All Over But the Crying

cassatt the teaToday is the last day of fall term classes. I’ve felt a bit confused all day because while it is a Tuesday really, we had Monday classes, thanks to a scheme some committee cooked up to “equalize” the exact number of days every class meets. (Next term the same geniuses have ordered that we have thee “Fridays” in a row, one actually on a Friday, then two more on the following Monday and Tuesday. You tell me how much sense that makes if your Friday meetings are usually tutorials…)

Anyway, today was a faux Monday, so I had my usual morning and afternoon classes. In Close Reading, I ended with a heartfelt peroration about the value of close reading, not (just) for literary analysis but for life. Then in Nineteenth-Century Fiction it was exam review time. With our class meetings over with, we all move on now to the “essays and exams” phase. I have one set of unit tests still to mark, then papers come in on Friday from my Close Reading students (who have no final exam). The two students who chose the final essay option for 19th-Century Fiction turn those in soon after, and then the rest of that class writes their final exam next Wednesday. I feel lucky this term that neither of my classes is particularly large (both are around 40) — it will be a push to get it all done in a timely way, but it won’t be as overwhelming as when I have groups of 90 (as I will next term for Pulp Fiction).

It has felt like a somewhat difficult term, though I can’t really explain why and it is probably too soon to reflect on it anyway, as we aren’t, after all, quite done. I had another reminder today, too, that you can’t always tell when you are making a positive difference in someone’s life just by turning up and doing the best you can to show why the work you’re all engaged in is both interesting and important. So for now I’ll just press on, buoyed by that heartening message, and just keep doing the best I can until it’s really all over for this round.

In this brief lull before the papers and exams come in, I do get to unwind a bit. I might even get a little good reading done! I started Elizabeth Taylor’s View of the Harbour a week or so ago and had to put it aside as I was having trouble concentrating: I was really liking it, though, so I’d like to return to it. I also need to finish a book review that has been hanging over my head: I’ve been plugging away at it over the last couple of evenings and it is about half done now. I’d like to do a little Christmas shopping too, because by the time the marking is in and done, there won’t be much time left, and rushing never seems very festive.

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