Semester Classes

Except for my newspaper class, I teach all semester classes. Which means the past two days have been a repeat of August for me: meeting over 130 new students, going over policies, procedures, and setting up needed technology for my classes.

And the August nerves are always there, too. I loved my classes last semester—what if this semester’s classes aren’t as fun? What if they don’t like the course content? What if my usual classroom management and general demeanor doesn’t work with them like it did last semester?

Then I think about a very important lesson I learned as a 12 year-old military kid. We had a 10-month assignment in Montgomery, Alabama for my dad to go to a command school. We knew going in we’d only be there a short time, with no option to extend at that base. What kinds of friends and connections could I make in ten months’ time?

Turns out, quite a few. Because when we left Montgomery, I was a wreck. And I was again when I left Nebraska, and again Montana, and everywhere I have lived since—I have found things to love about the place forced upon me and was monumentally sad to leave. 

Shout out to all my Enneagram 4s. Anyway.

I’m learning a similar pattern the longer I teach semester classes. Every semester is different, and I find myself thinking at the end of every semester, “No way can the next one be as good,” only to learn that it can, and sometimes the new semester is even better.

Two days into the new semester and I can genuinely say that I think I’m going to have a blast. And I hope my students do too. At least one student in every class so far has made me laugh, which is always a good sign. 

One of the “first day” activities I do with my classes is have them submit five things I can expect from them as students, and five things they expect from me as a teacher. Their responses are sometimes heartfelt, sometimes funny, and always hopeful.

The world feels like a dumpster fire most days, but I try my best to not get drawn up in the fray too often and focus on this: I’m lucky to teach the courses I teach and have the students I have. Every semester, every year.

And I will try to remember this in mid-April when we are all just DONE with ALL OF IT. 

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