Saturday, December 03, 2011

End of semester syndrome

I think I have end of semester syndrome. Now, I am not a doctor, although I play one for 16 weeks each semester, but here are the symptoms:

  • A version of what Ms. Mentor calls October--"exploding head month"--in which although you've been working diligently since August, you realize that you have not accomplished nearly enough, and in your mind that becomes "nothing at all," and your head explodes with the knowledge of what you still have to do.
  • Also causing your head to explode: the realization that a whole bunch of deadlines, including MLA presentations, are zooming toward you at the speed of light.
  • A twinge of envy: assuming that all your colleagues have accomplished far more than you have in the past semester--have written more, have taught more exciting classes, and have generally outpaced you in every way.
  • Happiness that classes will soon be over. No more prep! No more grading! No more writing new assignments! No more figuring out how to teach yet one more brand-new story!
  • Sadness that classes will soon be over. You've worked really hard, and you've been with these students for all these weeks, and you're confident that at least some of them have learned something, and it's now all ending. In some way, you know you will miss the familiar routine of going in to teach them, and you will probably miss seeing some of them, too.
  • A sinking feeling upon realizing that you now have to get ready to do the whole thing all over again in the spring. You have to think about courses you've never taught before, and dream up assignments, and carry everyone along on your back with your enthusiasm until their enthusiasm for the class catches fire, assuming that it does.
  • And did I mention getting ready for the holidays?

Symptoms may also include soundtracks. Here is the soundtrack that accompanies my particular End of Semester Syndrome; yours may vary:
Am I the only patient with ESS? What are your symptoms?


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I feel great impatience with the idea of having to grade final papers and final exams; vast enthusiasm for reading and writing things that matter to me; and complete denial that classes will start up again in six weeks. Also deep disgust for winter weather, and wariness bordering on dread for the Christmas furor. What's your diagnosis?

undine said...

Oh, yes. On an ESS spectrum, this doctor would say your symptoms indicate an ESS diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

is that what this is? I've actually hit a lull in the semester because I'm a librarian - instruction sessions are finally over (and I just presented at a conference on top of that), and yet I've got to wait until the end of the semester to be able to run our assessment stuff, so it's a great time to try and think big for next semester and beyond, but all I want to do on this fairly slow Saturday I'm working reference is to lay my head down on my desk and take a nap...

undine said...

Anon, I feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

You captured it so well. It's always bittersweet...this fall, it seems even more exhausting than usual, though I'm not sure why, exactly.