To say that this semester has been the hardest of my career feels woefully inadequate. Yes, it was worse than Spring 2021 when we had to shift mid-semester to fully remote teaching. Honestly, that semester seems like a breeze in comparison. And I’m sure you’d think that after that plus an entire other academic year of remote teaching under out belts that this semester would have been a breeze.
But you would be wrong.
I went into this year completely burned out. After the chaos of Spring 2021. After spending Summer 2021 teaching and prepping for Fall being all online. After an entire year of dragging students across the finish line. After another summer of doing the same (I also somehow ended up with nine credits for summer session – when six would be considered “full time”). I went into this Fall semester barely holding it together.
Thanks to my friends in and out of academia, I still managed to give my students everything and then some. (It really does help when you’ve got good folks in your corner that can prop you up when you’re too tired to stand on your own.) But we can only do so much if the students don’t show up. This semester, I had more students in one section fail than I normally have across all sections in a semester – because they simply didn’t show up. They didn’t respond to emails offering second chances. Or they did respond but then never followed up with the work. Or they just stopped signing into the course altogether.
Because they are burned out, too. Because it’s been almost two years, and we’re still in it. Many students are still forced to take online courses even if they aren’t wired in a way that they can be successful in them. We’ve offered a bit more face-to-face this semester, but even that wasn’t enough. I just keep thinking – it didn’t have to be like this.
But here we still are.
I submitted final grades yesterday, but unlike the usual relief that comes with this act, I just feel tired and sad. It doesn’t feel real, honestly. I can only hope that students (and my friends/colleagues) can get some rest over this break. I can only hope that next semester will be better than this one.