The new semester is about to start, but not before the craziness of getting our students ready for exams, and the hours spent marking final assessments. The beginning of the new semester is just like it is in the fall, but this time we aren’t going into it well rested as we are in September.
There are a few things you can do to make the transition a little easier:
1. Start cleaning up and organizing now. I used to just keep making piles, telling myself I’d organize all that paper during exam week. But then that’s one more job you have to do as you prepare for your new students. This time, I’m dedicating five minutes every day until exams to cleaning up. I’m firing lots of paper into the recycling bin and into the appropriate folder or binder…and like every year, promising myself I’ll do a better job of filing on a daily basis. (Good luck with that!)
2. Spend some time reflecting on what worked and what didn’t during the fall semester. I wrote about this at the end of June, and the same applies to the end of first semester. Do some backward design: identify the gaps, holes, and things you wish you’d spent more time on, and make a plan to get there. This does take time, but…
3. Follow your own advice. There are two things I tell my students as they get ready for exams: steal a few minutes here and there to work on things, rather than cram at the last minute, and “this too shall pass”. My first piece of advice —file papers or start organizing your book shelf if you have a few minutes while students are working on something. Even if you only get five minutes work done a class, by the end of the week, you’ll have made some progress. My “this too shall pass” advice is a little harder to take. I tell my students that they only have a few weeks until exams. During that time they need to do more work at home; they need to be more focused and diligent. They need to just suck it up, realize that there won’t be much “me time” for a bit, and focus on your goals. It’ll be worth it, I tell them.