I finished up giving finals today, including the paperwork. It was not easy, things broke and I had to get creative about figuring out the appropriate end runs. My landscaping business taught me a lot about getting the job handled even when the tools are broken.
It is sometimes difficult to hand out grades. I’ve set it up so that there is as little subjectivity involved as possible. I believe in giving the students the benefit of the doubt, and I believe in giving away the information. Even at that, it is hard. One class in particular, and a couple of students in other classes, did not fare so well. That is tough to see. There is little I can do about it that I can figure out. But, as always, I’ll take a look anyway.
Still, there were the success stories, like the student that barely made a “C” after struggling all semester. That student’s look of relief and the happiness that followed the “C” grade covers a lot of ground for me. That will be a happy start for the summer for that fellow. Of course there are the “B” and “A” success stories as well, and I do love to see it. I do not like anything less than those three grades, however. I’ve proposed that in the first two years of college, especially at the community college level, there be no “Ds” or “Fs.” Students will have to pass the criteria, which in my case is very stringent (as it is with most teachers that I’m aware of at the college; I think we basically have an outstanding faculty) or the students simply get nothing on their record. This idea will ultimately wind up being a taxpayer issue, but I’m not in favor of promoting failure.
I got a break in worrying when a couple of ladies that work at the college got creative and covered my office door frame (literally, I couldn’t even get to the door handle) with some kind of butcher paper littered with sayings, cartoons, and an assortment of candy and nuts (the sour balls and nuts were somehow related to my disposition, so they said; I think that it’s nothing more than a vicious rumor). Other teachers in that office area were laughing at the whole episode, being all smug and cutsie.
Actually it was pretty nice. It was clear a lot of work went into the project, and these people have plenty of work to do already. In fact they talked a female police officer into helping them (all that butcher paper was kind of bulky) which only added to the scene apparently (a gun carrying, uniformed officer busy with butcher paper and packing tape, which can be very sticky). Given how I’d been feeling today, that bit of attention was just what the doctor ordered. I told them so, after they quit acting innocent, but I didn’t tell them exactly how good it felt. That’ll have to wait until I can actually do it.
Now that I’m finished with school, at least briefly, I’m facing some down time. While I’ve been looking forward to this, today I realized that the space is not going to be easy. I can feel the emotional assault rising up. After better than four months of hiding behind work, even with the daily writing and attempts at emotional exorcism, I can feel there is lots to come. I know that I cannot hide from it, but I can’t say that I look forward to it. I do not know what I’ll find in myself, my present, or my future (though they’re all going on at the same time). It’s a familiar feeling and rhythm–with the trouble of the last few months, the uncertainty has a certain kind of ring to it.
Maybe all this uncertainty is necessary to undermine the status quo. And I suspect that a cornerstone of that status quo, useful at times, is the notion of hope. However, hope as a constant arrow of direction is a tough gig.
Maybe it needs to go.
For the first time in my life, I’m really suspicious about hope (I heard a line in a movie where, in response to a question about how things were going, a cowboy replied, “Better, since I gave up hope”). In any case, whatever is going on, I’m convinced that my present state of affairs is full of necessary information about my actual, rather than my imagined, state of being. Sometimes that’s the place to be, like it or not.
As usual, when one’s manifestations mirror one’s thoughts and behaviors, and that truth can be clearly observed, it’s difficult to not like it. The gift of the moment is just too powerful to remain locked in some depressive or anxiety-ridden state, whether one likes the familiar ring of uncertainty or not.