Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bright eyed, bushy tailed

Last year, I wrote about the excitement I have for the first week of a new semester (see Fall Frenzy from August 2010). Year after year, I leave a hectic summer of teaching with no energy. I often find myself reviewing the Fall publication/research/grant/course preparation items (neatly located on an excel spreadsheet chronologically organized, of course) with an inner groan. "I only had two weeks--and they were spent doing XYZ item!" I internally bemoan my inability to "get ahead" before another term begins. I feel under-prepared to start and wonder if I can "get it all together" in time.

But then, equally regular in its yearly ritual, a glorious thing happens every semester...none of those feelings matter! They simply fade away as I see the first students in line at registration, meet former students milling about on campus, and watch as campus comes alive. My grandmother would say I was "bright eyed and bushy tailed" again. You know what I mean, that revitalization, that renewed energy, that sparkle in your eye and zest in your step that cannot be held down. It is a beautiful surge of emotion and it can serve as the driving fuel for my semester. Just like those bright eyed, bushy tailed squirrels running around, I become increasingly active. I pop my head in on colleagues, check up on policies and issues on campus, scamper around turning in paperwork and picking up items, shake a zillion hands and, my favorite, answer questions for first-time students wandering around campus. I begin my pre-semester rituals. I solicit advice on new activities for tough class topics. I find myself imagining the dynamics of each new class ("I wonder if such-and-such class will be like last semester? Will there be a class prankster? A challenging student? A 'lingering student' (see previous post Lingering Student)? Will we easily develop that classroom camaraderie?"). 

The new semester is an exciting time. And, no matter how often we experience it from the faculty standpoint we should remember the newness of it for our students. Despite the wearying summer term, the veritable mountain of tasks, and the stress of another academic semester beginning (with a new text book leading to massive class revisions...), it will be hard to keep the spring out of this squirrel's...oops! I mean...girl's step!

Best wishes for a productive and successful Fall 2011 semester!

No comments:

Post a Comment