I wake up an hour before my alarm almost every day. Before I even open my eyes to check the clock, I think, “What will happen today?” My brain clicks on and spills ideas like marbles: coffee, shower, it’s raining, gas tank is empty, out of fruit–wait, what? I get to teach today. That’s why I woke up early. I have the most fun job in the world. I teach smart students my favorite subject. I ask them to think and they do. They listen. They come to lecture. Some even put their phones away when I ask. They discuss hard problems. They try and try and try. I am so impressed by them.
Now on the tails side of the teaching coin we have the hidden tiring parts of the job: writing assessments, grading, meeting, proofreading, coordinating, never ever ever resting. (Well, actually the summers are lovely and restful.)
Like my students, I don’t have a five-day work week. Saturdays are work days. Evenings are for working, too. Lately in the evenings I’ve gotten outside to walk for an hour. And lately, on Saturday mornings, I’ve been stealing hours to bake. But every Sunday evening I preview the week, look over lectures, check the labs, answer emails, check the quiz, and get all the ducks lined up to march. The meetings. And grading. And office hours. And deadlines. And planning. And And And. Cramming twelve months of work into nine makes academic life grueling.
Last week I spent every second writing exams. This week I’ll grade them. It’s final exam time. Already. We climbed the mountain of April only to fall off the cliff. This slower-than-cold-maple-syrup semester blew by. It’s an impossible paradox how the days can feel so long while the weeks seem so short. I hope my students are ready. I hope they don’t feel too stressed. I know they can do it. I also know college is hard. And at this point, my biggest contribution is only hope. Like so much of life in a pandemic, it’s out of my hands.
Good news: weekly US COVID-19 new infections lowest in seven months.
Bad news: India’s new cases at almost 400,000 per day. They will likely catch the US soon.
This is a GLOBAL pandemic.