January 03, 2005

Random Thoughts about Spring Semester

Why do they call it SPRING semester? We will have snow on the ground for most of the semester. We'll be lucky if we get a few nice days somewhere near the very end. It's really winter semester, at least where I live.

I love buying new office supplies. A new stack of yellow legal pads, new reams of paper for the laser printer, a new box of pens, a new box of folders. I buy lots of plain manila folders, but I also get a box that are red, blue, green, and yellow because I color code my courses. I've done this for years, so even though my office is jammed full with stuff, I can glance through a pile quickly, and pull out all the green folders that I used for the Green Course other years. Tonight, I've lined up three new clean green folders for the Green Course. One folder for the class roster and stuff I want to do that day, one folder for student papers, and one folder for the syllabus, handouts, things like that. Tomorrow, I'll work on the Red Course.

The first job I ever had was working under the table as a legal secretary when I was about fourteen. That began my lifelong addiction to yellow legal pads. At any given time I have 4 or 5 yellow legal pads on my desk, with different lists on them.

About guilt. New Kid was talking about how she feels guilty adding books she hasn't read to a course. What's funny is that I am feeling guilty because I am using all stuff I've read and taught before. I read a lot to keep on top of what is getting published in my area, and most years, I add at least one book to each of my literature courses, dropping some book that is kind of outdated. Last spring, I added a couple of new books that worked really well so this year I didn't make any changes. I feel guilty when I don't make changes. One nice thing, though, is that I am having fun rearranging what I am going to teach and that is soooo much easier to do since I've taught it all before. I do always reread everything the night before I teach it. That's part of the job that I like. I get paid to read great books, always ones that I've chosen.

Always when a new semester begins, I have this sense of getting a new start. I can rewrite the syllabus. I get new students. I can vow anew not to procrastinate when grading papers. I make plans to reserve more time for writing. I love the academic calendar because it offers so many chances for a new beginning.


Anonymous said...

I was recently looking at the website for a school in the far north of a Canadian province (they were advertising a job, and desperate times call for desperate measures). I noticed that THEY, at least, call it winter semester.

wolfa said...

All the Montreal schools call it winter semester, and I constantly confused people at my grad school by calling spring semester winter (which there meant the 4 week intercession time, which doesn't exist here). But if you have 4 sessions, I suppose it makes sense this way. Ish.

What Now? said...

Yes, yes, yes on the joys of the academic calendar. I suppose that there might be things about one's job that didn't start over--problems with other colleagues or a bad committee duty or something like that--but I'm fortunate not to have those, so the only real frustrations that I have in my job are mostly of my own creation, mostly the piles of grading that I'm always falling behind on. So I just love that the slate gets wiped clean twice a year! Even when I have a bunch of students from one semester to the next, it still feels like a new beginning for all of us.

Mel said...

The new start three times a year is one of my favorite things about academic life. . . there are always things that are familiar, but so much that is new, too.