Summer Vacation . . . Here I Come! (Sort of, haha)

I know it’s been slow on my blog for the past several weeks, mostly because of the typical end-of-semester madness that descends. Today, however, I can happily report that the Spring, 2017 semester has been put to bed. Papers and exams graded, final grades assigned and entered into the official system. It’s nice to be able to sit down and take a breath after one of the busiest semesters I’ve had yet. (I’ll be teaching a summer session starting next week, so I’m not really on vacation yet, but I’m enjoying the week of downtime I have between the two “semesters”).

Why was I so busy? On the one hand, it’s not too surprising, as I was involved with five courses (teaching three of them solo; the other two were team-taught), and I did a lot of extra curricular work with the Copeland Creek restoration on campus, but I didn’t have a new course prep, as I’ve had every other semester I’ve taught. For that reason alone, I thought this was going to be a pretty relaxed semester. Looking back, however, when I think about at the rosters for my courses, I realize that I had more than 350 students this semester, altogether. That’s a lot of students, and I spent one-on-one time with a fair number of them – for a good part of the semester, my office hours (three hours a week at the start, and four to five hours total per week throughout the last half of the semester) were like a subway station at rush hour some days. (I’ll describe how I dealt with that in a separate post).

So yes, it’s nice to have a bit of breathing room, but at the same time, I loved having the chance to work with such a diverse array of students – from brand new freshmen to graduating seniors, across a wide spectrum of majors. Some of my favorite moments:

  • The spectacular success of the Entomology service learning activity I facilitated, for the seven students who participated
Come at me bro
Come at me bro
  • A hilarious Yellowstone ecosystem food web created by one of my Global Environmental Issues students that used internet memes to represent the organisms (primarily wolves, deer, and plants)
  • Drawings on the final exam of the bones in a human hand compared to the bones in a fin of a whale, to demonstrate one of the student’s favorite concepts during the semester
  • Having students come to office hours just to have a place to hang out between classes
  • Seeing my students’ final posters at the Science Symposium (and seeing them all dressed up in their fancy clothes for the event)
  • Receiving an adorable fairy terrarium from one of my Intro Bio students
  • One of my intro biology students coming to a creek workday, and being SUPER excited to discover that I knew her by name (she literally jumped up and down)
  • A student asking to take a selfie with me after finishing her final exam
  • Seeing the amazing transformation along Copeland Creek, as a result of all the work we’ve done throughout the semester
  • Receiving emails with links to interesting science stories that my students thought would be of interest to me (mostly I love this because it means they’re on the internet reading about science)!

And possibly my favorite:

  • Hearing back from a grad student whose CV and cover letter I helped edit, to let me know that she’d been offered the job!!

This is a very abbreviated list of favorite moments, and I have loads more things to post from this past month or so – stories to tell that have been neglected due to the flurry of activity associated with the end of the semester. But now I have time to sit down and tell them, so expect to see some new posts in the very near future.

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