Last week was the first week of the second (fall) semester, so it’s time for my traditional beginning-of-the-semester post. The first week is the add/drop period, so as usual there were some changes in student enrollment. That being said, my overall numbers didn’t change that much, and when the dust settled I had set yet another record for number of students in a single semester: 97. There is some overlap, of course—that is, I have some students who are in both of my classes—but these students will of course be doing separate work for each class. Come the end of the semester, I will still have 97 final essays to mark, which should be fun. (Actually, I generally lose at least two or three students after the add/drop period for various reasons, so I would be very surprised if ended up with 97 final essays.)
The beginning of a new semester is always a time of uncertainty, both for students and for professors. Will we all get along? (Probably, although some of us will get along better than others.) Will it be a rewarding experience? (I hope so!) Will I be burned out at the end of it all? (Most likely!) I already had a very busy summer—with the exception of our quick trip to Singapore, I wasn’t able to take that much time off—and this semester just seems like a continuation of that. I have a lot of projects that I am working on (papers, book chapters, etc.), along with other responsibilities in addition to my teaching load. It’s all for a good cause, of course; there’s not much on my plate that I am not eager to do, which at least helps in the motivation department. But it’s going to be a grind nonetheless.
You might think that I would be envious of my colleagues who are on sabbatical this semester—with all the work I have to do, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to focus solely on that and not have to worry about teaching? Yeah, sure, I can’t say that wouldn’t be nice. But for as physically and mentally taxing as teaching can be, I also find it spiritually rewarding. I know there will be positive experiences with my students, and those experiences will give me a boost when I am feeling overwhelmed. And when the semester begins to shrink in the rear-view mirror, those experiences will be what I remember. So here’s to another new beginning, with hope for a bright (even if busy) semester ahead.