Friday, April 27
Today is the last day of classes here at Mid-Tier-University, and I am indescribably happy! I am, in fact, probably even happier than my students, who are ecstatic about escaping the rigorous horror that they just realized was the difference between lower and upper division courses. Every time I think about not hearing "But why can't we just use numbers? there's an equation right there!" for the whole summer, I want to break into song. Better even than that, though, is the realization that, after grades are submitted, I have a summer -- an entire, complete, glorious summer -- to do research!

This has been an excruciating term, because for the first time I had students who resented having to think, to work, to meet expectations, who seemed to really believe that showing up was all it took (and who then seemed to think that it was appropriate to complain to my chair when it turned out that they were wrong). And then there's the gender thing -- "but you're supposed to be nice! and nurturing! Why can't I turn in late work? You're mean!" -- where they express levels of entitlement that they'd never show to a male colleague.

The term has also been excruciating because, as hard as I've tried, I haven't been able to salvage any time for my own research, so I feel as though -- in addition to wasting my efforts and care and concern on students who wouldn't even grasp that I was doing them some favors (yes, I'll teach extra evening sessions to help you understand the material that was a prequisite for the course, but, um, yes, you need to do the reading) -- I made absolutely no progress toward tenure. I expect my evaluations will be bimodal (about half strong, and half awful, really), but the time I spent focusing on the course will be directly counted against progress securing additional external funding.

I don't think I have ever been more thrilled about a term ending. Usually I'm pleased in a nebulous sense, because hey, a week of fluff reading and then more term! And I have all these great ideas for that term, and research too! (That last sentence isn't sarcasm -- it's a pretty accurate read on how I've felt in the past.) This term has taken too much out of me, and right now, the thought of teaching again -- ever -- makes me want to sob. So here's my secret: I don't want to go back. I never want to see these people again -- colleagues or students -- and I think I made a terrible mistake.

But the term's over. Small mercies, but mercy all the same.

6 comments:

Fraud said...

All I can say is AMEN!

I can't wait until my own semester's over, and my own glorious summer begins. After reading your post I've been nourished with some of your energy to get me through in the meantime.

TenureTrackNewbie said...

Still got two weeks to go over here, but I am already feeling similarly giddy. Everyone gets the sense that they can never return to this chaotic world of the academic rollercoaster by the end of the semester, and I hope it's not just you and me and fraud.

Anonymous said...

For the last three years I have taught at an Australian University. Last semester, I had five post-graduate courses to teach - all the lectures and tutorials, all the marking of assignments and final exams. I was also supervising two Masters student's dissertations and co-supervising two PhD students.

I like teaching, but I can't do this amount of work and do it well.

So at the end of last semester, I resigned. And it was a tenured academic position.

Chartreuse Circe said...

Fraud, I hope you can use some of that energy -- I could, too!

TTN, I don't know if this is normal or not. All I know is that it's never felt this bad before. At this point, I'm feeling like Anonymous made the best choice (and I hope s/he is feeling like that too!).

Good luck getting your terms wrapped up!

WhatLadder said...

Thank you, chartreuse for mentioning the gendered aspect of student entitlement. I blogged about my experience with that issue a little while ago (and as a result acquired an e-stalker who claimed I am a sexist). It's nice to find someone else who perceived the same issue.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous - we're still in exam time, and this isn't even the quarter system! Still. Can't wait until we're through!