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From the Archives: Getting Through the End of Term

Deadlines, committee meetings, and events pile up at the end of the spring semester. Almost everyone on campus, students, staff, and faculty alike, feel the pressure building up over the last weeks. There are papers to write or grade, thesis and dissertation defenses, final meetings of almost every administrative committee or panel, prize competitions to be judged, and graduation ceremonies to be planned, rehearsed, and performed.

It’s a lot. It’s stressful. But somehow or other, the spring term does end and we all get through it.

Depending on your institution’s calendar, your focus right now may either be on surviving these last few days or on closing out your academic term for the summer. Here are some posts from the ProfHacker archives to help.

Getting Through the Grading

Nels explains his grading process (not just the rubrics, but how he comments, what music he listens to, and how he schedules the work) to his students because: “Students really have no understanding of how grading works, but that is not their fault. Grading is another one of those things that we keep invisible.”

Nels questioned why people use the phrase “grading jail” and suggested in a follow-up post that many instructors feel stressed about managing their time, because: “Good grading takes time. We can talk about tricks and reduce minutes here and there, but it takes time pure and simple.”

Amy uses Google Documents to speed up her grading. Erin uses a magic pencil. I recommend using a timer to limit the time spent on each essay, and to make sure you take quality breaks. (At my own site, I explain further about using sprint, block, and task timing for grading.) Billie makes grading jail comfortable.

Amy reflects on the advantages of using letters or numbers to calculate grades and an archives post on grading rounds up many other helpful posts.

Getting Through Meetings

Near the end of the semester, it’s wise to keep in mind that many people’s nerves are a bit frayed. In a classic post, Jason reminded us that bad meetings are your fault, because “Meetings are a problem when no one is accountable for them.” His reminders to be on time, put the grading away, and make actual decisions are especially important as the semester comes to a close. His analysis of faculty rhetoric in meetings points out key tropes you might hear year-round but find especially irritating right now.

Billie discusses the problem of disruptive faculty in meetings and Jason recently offered Robert Sutton’s test for discovering jerks on campus.

Practice Good Self Care

Now, more than ever, try to take care of yourself:

End the Semester Right

What’s your essential end of semester tip or ritual? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative commons licensed image from flickr user alibree]

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