Friday, April 29, 2011

And with that ...

... spring 2011 classes are over.

It's a shock.  I've been working so hard and looking forward so assiduously to a rest.  But nevertheless, the final class meetings of my courses snuck up on me and passed without tremendous ceremony.  We had a lot we were trying to accomplish those last few classes -- presentations to squeeze in, projects to complete, reminders about final exams and last-minute instructions.

It's a shame, though, that we didn't have time to pause and mark the end of a momentous year.  I had both ends of the undergraduate spectrum -- freshmen finishing their first years, and seniors taking their final classes.  For both, there should be a chance to savor this moment and remember its significance, not just a mad dash to the finish and a sincere longing for sleep.

I still have the exam periods, of course.  And I hope to use them.  My preference is for in-class performances, group projects, or take-home writing over sitting in a room in silence scratching in a blue book.  A nice side effect of this bias is that it's a lot easier to integrate food and conviviality into the final occasion of us all being together if we're not doing individual timed writing.  So I have a lot of parties at my final exams.

Given how intensely they've labored and how much they've accomplished this semester, my seniors aren't going to have to get up at 8 am for the designated exam period next week; instead, we're meeting at a local watering hole for pizza and karaoke.  (They do have a final written reflection due as well.)  I'm having a slightly more elaborate freshman final this year than has been my recent custom, with pairs of students doing brief presentations and responding to questions from the group, in addition to a take-home reflection, but they'll do it all with a potluck lunch on the table.

There's still a lot to pack into these last chances to meet and share ideas.  We need to celebrate what we've accomplished, feel the momentousness of the occasion, express any sentiments that need saying, and recognize the transitions that are underway.  I hope I haven't missed my chance to create a space where that can happen.

No comments: