School’s Out!


May 11, 2014 by Jean

Today, I turned in my last-ever set of final (really final!!) grades. There are many aspects of teaching that I love; grading is not one of them. Being done with grading forever is a wonderfully free feeling. I know it’s a cliché, but this really does feel like the first day of the rest of my life.

I really had to push myself to keep going through these last days of grading. First there were the final projects from my research methods class – 18 of them, taking about 1 hour each to read and grade. I began them on Wednesday night, worked on them through much of the day on Thursday, and then brought the rest in to finish in the office on Friday. I usually try to avoid grading papers in the office because there are just too many interruptions there. This was especially true on this day, when students in one class were coming in to turn in final papers and when I had advertised an office open house to give away books. When five o’clock rolled around, I still had two research projects left to grade. But with no one else left in the department, it was quiet and I pushed through to finish them, record the grades, and put the papers out for students before I left for home.

I took Friday evening off and then dug back into grading on Saturday. I began grading the final exams in my research methods course. More importantly, I graded all the final papers in my smaller Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies class, computed the final grades, and submitted the course grades electronically. One course down and one to go!

I knew that I would only need four or five hours today to finish grading the research methods exams and to compute and submit the final grades for that class. One glitch appeared when I checked my email before going to bed last night and found an inquiry from a student in that course disputing her grade on her research project. These disputes are by far the most tedious part of grading, and this one added another grading chore to my Sunday schedule.

When I got to work at mid-morning today, I decided to deal with the disputed grade first, sending the student a long and carefully composed email explaining her grade more fully. With that out of the way, I could focus on grading the short and long essay questions on the exam. By mid-afternoon, the grading was done and the grades were submitted. It was a good finish to the course. At the beginning of the semester, I had challenged this class to make my last experience teaching research methods a good one, and they came through for me. More than half the class earned A grades on the final exam (which is extraordinary), and all but two students had course grades in the A or B range (indicating that they had learned the basics that provide the foundation for the upper-level methods course that most will take following this one).

With all my course grades submitted, I had one last teaching task to complete, one that I had purposely left for last. This was to read the final polished senior thesis written by my honors student. Chad is an exceptional student, and it has been a joy to work with him on this project all year. I had already seen and commented on many drafts of various parts of his thesis. No grading was required here, although I was looking out for any typos that would need to be corrected before the paper is deposited in the department’s archives. Sitting down with the final, polished version was pure pleasure, a wonderful way to end a teaching career.

Tomorrow I will need to get serious about getting ready to move. The moving truck comes in less than two weeks, and there is a lot of cleaning and packing to be done between now and then. But, for now, I am celebrating the fact that school’s out and grinning at the thought that I will never have to grade papers again.

6 thoughts on “School’s Out!

  1. Woohoo school’s out forever!!! The packing will be a joy I suspect although I bet you will be distracted some…eye on the prize my fiend and you will soon be on your way…the first month I felt like I was out of place but I soon got over that and knew it was for real finally!! You made it and I am so very happy for you!! Perhaps next year I will finally make a trip to Maine and would love to meet up. For now I am taking care of a pesky hernia and will have surgery Friday and then recovery for 2-4 weeks. Safe travels Jean!

    • Jean says:

      Donna, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the packing is a joy; but it’s a manageable chore. I’ve mostly got my office done; one more day of packing up books to be donated should do it. At home, there’s still lots to do, but I just need to tackle it systematically. Tomorrow, I’ll take a break from packing for a couple of hours and thin out plants in my garden here for a plant division giveaway at school on Thursday. It will feel good when I’m done with all the packing and am on the road to Maine.
      Good luck with your hernia surgery, and I’ll expect to see you in Maine in 2015 🙂

  2. Jean says:

    What a wonderful way to end your career. I’m so happy you’re happy! I wonder. Are you going to end this blog and start another or maybe switch over to your gardening blog..or what? I would love to continue reading your adventures as you transition to your new life style.

    • Jean says:

      Jean, I’ll definitely be keeping this blog going. I see it as a journal of my transition to retirement and my retirement experience, and I feel that I have barely begun that process. It was sobering to run into a friend who retired a couple of years ago and have her tell me that she found the adjustment of the first year very, very difficult.

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

Please join me as I step into my future.

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