my students are here with their words

Saturday, March 10, 2012

When I told my son that my Penn students were completing their memoirs during this spring break and had until last night at midnight to turn them in, he cocked his head and gave me one of those looks.  "Why would you do that," he asked, "to students you love?"

I tried to explain that the spring break due date was a way of giving my students more time—that they had been free to turn their pieces in earlier, if that's what they'd preferred, that we had been working toward this memoir all semester long, that more time outside the press of other school projects could be considered kind and beneficial.  Still, my son perpetuated his incredulous (but still quite handsome) stare.  "Friday night," he repeated.  "Midnight.  Had you considered, say, Wednesday instead?  Or Friday around dinner time?" 

Were I a real professor and not someone who teaches one course one semester each year, I might be attuned to all the nuances of academic life.  But I am, alas, merely and only me—this reader/writer/memoir evangelist who wants to give her students everything she's got...and who wants them to discover and apply every ounce of their own who-ness to the page.  I've got a kid who thinks I'm a little crazy.  I've got students who—by and large—don't resist.  And I have, this Saturday morning, some truly extraordinary work by young people who have put their hearts and very brilliant minds on the page.

At the end of a week of great exhaustion and sickness, my son is home cracking his sunny smile, and my students are here, with their words.


8 comments:

Serena said...

wonderful words take time and the more time they have, the better those words will be...I think

Linda Jackson said...

Beth, I did the same thing once when I taught only "one" course at DeVry. I had an exam scheduled for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving break, thinking I was giving my students the extra time to study over the long weekend. Needless to say, they weren't too pleased with me that Tuesday, nor were they prepared for the exam. :)

Melissa Sarno said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this makes you a masochist. I just pictured you mwa-ha-ha-ing over your syllabus. 'MIDNIGHT! On a Friday! Over Spring Break! AHAHAHA'

patti.mallett_pp said...

Well, you've gotten me to smile, laugh, say aww, and mist over - and I'm just barely out of bed and on only two sips of my tea. (late night again)

How I would love to pour over those memoirs with you (and sit in on your class)!

Laura G Micu said...

Yes, we hate to have work during spring break. And we're Penn students. If we are given more time, chances are we'll take it to make our work better. That does not guarantee that our work will be better. What professors need to understand is that we take 4,5,6, or even 7 classes every semester. When all of those classes give deadlines over spring break or right after, we don't really get a break. That means we'll perform much worse after it. But I wouldn't mind writing over break if it was for your class either :)

Beth Kephart said...

Smiling at the responses — thank you, all. I hope it is clear that the students had time to write the memoir before the break...and that I gave them this extra week if they wanted to have it. One handed it in ahead of time. The others wished to dwell. I don't think writing should be rushed, and if I can avoid a rush on behalf of any other, I will.

Amy said...

aw Beth. I hope you enjoy the work your students have written for you. How lucky they are to have you, tbh.

Richard Gilbert said...

It depends on the class. I bet your students appreciate the time. A regular class of nonmajors, not so much. It would be better in that case to make them turn in their papers before break, a culmination.

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