Like What Now?, I’m starting to feel a bit summery. It began today after school; I’d returned the last batch of papers to my sophomores, the building was quieter than usual, the usual stream of email had shrunk to a trickle. A three-day weekend ahead, some tasks on the to-do list but nothing I absolutely had to take home with me. We have review and the beginning of exams next week, and because of the AP classes, I will only give exams to two classes and have 31 tests to grade. I’m sure I will falter when I first sit down with them, but really, that is not a lot of grading to do!
I got the summer-reading feeling first, the urge to plunge into a new book, with enough time to get absorbed in it. I tucked a copy of Purple Hibiscus into my bag; I’ve been meaning to read it for years, ever since Elinor read it and declared it wonderful but too intense to assign to our tenth-graders. I know that other schools have adopted it, though*, and SA itself is different than it was when Elinor was there; I’ll see what I think.
(*I believe Elinor actually teaches it at her current school; did I tell you, though, that she’s moving? We were in touch because there was a slight possibility she’d come back to SA, but she and her husband really wanted the Pacific Northwest, and that’s where they’re going.)
The Snork Maiden and I had planned to go to the movies with FLS, but FLS wasn’t feeling up to it, which gave us a quiet evening at home. I was fine with that as we have a fair bit of social stuff going on this weekend, the last one before Stubb leaves for his summer gig. Definitely yoga–haven’t been this week. And Stubb and I will be away overnight Saturday to celebrate both our birthdays, which fall on either side of that departure.
So now to write a little, and then off to bed with a book!
…more days of classes. Two of those will be days with no seniors, so one day I’ll have two tenth-grade classes; the next, just one tenth-grade class.
It’s good that a lot of things are tapering off, because there’s also an upswing in end-of-year tasks. I have to write a new final for the tenth-graders–there might be a few things I can borrow from other people, but not much. There are a couple of end-of-year report things and the finalizing of placements and teacher deployments. A slow drip of students (not mine) who want to talk with me about their courses for next year. A few disappearing seniors who have to be chased down for final pieces of work.
Twenty-one days into May, I’ve written on fifteen of them, missed six. Starting on the Tuesday after graduation, I’ll be away for a week with the Snork Maiden while she does a brief summer internship about two and a half hours away. She’ll be busy, I’ll be letting the school year out of my system, and that will be the start of my writing summer–which, in the very best-case scenario, might be about thirty solid work days (taking account of visitors, professional commitments, etc., and if there are no family health emergencies or other disasters–last summer had plenty, thanks. Unfortunately there are ongoing family health issues, and I’m actually figuring those in as best I can–not that you can plan for sudden hospitalizations and so on, but I’m mentally setting aside seven to ten days for the usual disruptions of life to happen in, and hoping it won’t be quite that many).
That’s about how many more days until we start exams. The school year will be over in roughly a month. We’ve chosen the valedictorian and the recipients of year-end awards. Some plans for next year have been made.
I applied for four summer writing residencies and didn’t get any of them. Not a huge surprise, since competition is stiff, but I’m still disappointed. So I’m making my own plans for a couple of different summer writing retreats–solitary, unhip and cheap, but I think I can give myself much of what I need.
Meanwhile, I’m endeavoring to touch work every day in May so that I can launch myself into a productive summer.
I was thinking about how I get stressed by the approach of the end of the school year, and I was suddenly reminded of a half-remembered quotation from somewhere: “If I liked this, what about it would I like?” (I think it’s the New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl, but with just a brief search I can’t find the exact quotation and a proper attribution, only other people who seem to half-remember it the same way I do.) It’s a great question for art, and perhaps even better for life situations. So, if I liked the last six weeks or so of the school year:
- I would like the feeling of really having come to know the students pretty well, of having seven or eight months of shared experiences and struggles and jokes.
- I would like seeing my new colleagues settling in and getting comfortable, looking forward to next year, finding a sense of ownership about their courses and their ways of doing things.
- I would like coming to accept what’s not under my control, of realizing that some of the year’s goals won’t be met, that nothing was perfect, that a lot of things went right anyway.
- I would like getting ready to bid farewell to colleagues who are leaving: some because they are going on to new adventures and I’m happy for them, and perhaps just one or two that I’ll be relieved not to have to deal with anymore.
The end of the year is in sight now, yet there’s so much to get through before we get there–
and, as usual, part of me doesn’t want to get there, gets anxious at the thought of the year being over.
Woke early this Sunday morning and fell back asleep to dream vividly that all my seniors were being stealthily replaced by middle-aged people. And then it got strange.
I know I’ve had at least the lite version of Love, Teach‘s Sunday Afternoon Megasad Life Hole, so even though it’s spring break, I’m saving this to read–maybe the Sunday before we go back from break.
Meanwhile, a lot of life stuff has risen up to claim my spring break. I will write and do yoga, however. I may not get to have a book orgy, a trip or a lot of catching-up time with friends, but I’m definitely writing and doing yoga. Starting today.
FLS directed me to a site I really enjoy–The Final Wager, by Keith Williams, a Jeopardy! champion who analyzes the wagering in each day’s Final Jeopardy! round in both a post and a short video. Once I watched his basic introduction-to-wagering videos, I was able to follow his strategy in the daily posts, and it’s definitely improved my understanding of what a good wager is. I don’t always get to see the show, but I’ve been reading Keith’s posts for several weeks now. In the videos, he stands before a small whiteboard (we can hear the TV offscreen) and calculates the wagers with colored Expo markers before un-pausing the TV and playing the FJ question along with the players. Although his demeanor is typically pretty even-keeled, it’s fun to see how much he is still engaged with the show, more than a decade after winning the College Championship–how fresh the enjoyment of it still is. (Which I guess is true of all of us who have been watching the show for decades, even if only intermittently.)
Friday’s game featured some truly terrible strategy on the part of the returning champion, who was behind, had a chance to catch up on Daily Doubles but bet very small, and then all three players made completely wrongheaded bets–like, even I could tell they were bad. They didn’t change the outcome from what it would have been if they had all made good bets, but all three of them bet badly, and it hit Keith hard. Here’s the whole thing, but this is what happened: When one of the bets was revealed, he threw the remote across the room. When the leader’s bet–which didn’t even cover a correct answer by the second-place person–was revealed, he sighed deeply, capped the green Expo marker, dropped it on the floor, capped the red one, dropped it, and turned to the camera: “OK, well, I think tonight I officially announce my retirement, ’cause no one is paying attention to me, and, uh, you know…I don’t know how much I can deal with this anymore.”
This is how teachers feel in March before spring break.