An epilogue to my epilogue:
This morning, on the last day of finals week, at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m., I gave my last final exam. I've just started on the bluebooks, and have about 24 hours to finish them before heading off to Puddletown. But that's not what this post is about. It's about two good things that happened today to take the edge off my teaching angst.
First thing: I sat down with Master Teacher, and she offered reassurance, but then asked good questions about what I was doing, and told me that I was doing most everything right, but then actually offered a suggestion for improving, with examples from her own courses, and a reason why a small change could make a big difference. She then shared some materials with me. I'm going to think about how to implement the change. I won't do it exactly like she does, because my goals are slightly different, but she's given me something that I can do.
Second thing: at the end of the final exam, one of the last students to turn in her exam was E. E., like all of the students in this 100-level class, is a non-major, taking this course to fill a Gen Ed requirement. She's also been one of the strongest students: her papers have been in the B+/A- range, and her work in discussion shows her to be thinking hard about the material, even if her conclusions aren't always completely on-target. Anyway, E. turns in her exam, then asks, "So, what courses in [medieval stuff] are you teaching next semester? Because I always thought it would be boring, but it actually sounds really interesting now, and I'd like to take a course in it."
Now, you'll just have to take my word for it that E. is not a suck-up. After a semester, it's pretty clear who does or does not fall into that category. No, what seems to have happened is that a strong student, a non-major but in a related field, got interested in something that I talked about for three weeks out of an entire course, and now wants to learn more about it -- from me.
She. Wants. To. Learn. More.
Thank you, E. On the last day of the semester, just when I was getting ready to chalk it all up as a bad job, or at best a "learning experience," you made it all worth it.