It seems I always get excited for a new semester – so I thought I’d share with you the top 5 things that I love about starting with a fresh group of students in a course I’ve taught at least 3 times a year in the last 7 years, no particular order.
1. The students haven’t been around most of Winter Break, and suddenly the halls are filled with anxious students following their printed out schedule. While this is one of my favorite things about the new semester, what it does to the parking lot (i.e., fills it up and leaves me parking much further than I did during the break) sometimes frustrates me!
2. I still make copies of my syllabus for students. There is just something about that stack of newly copied, stapled, and beautifully laid out semester plans that puts a smile on my face. I usually stick to the deadlines and activities that are in the syllabus as well, so I feel confident my planning will pay off!
3. I love how students look around at each other the first day of class, clearly scoping out whether they should have out their notebook to take notes, or whether they should have brought their textbook(s) to class, asking themselves, “What is everyone else doing?” Often it’s so quiet, I can hear a pin drop. By the third or fourth class, though, they are often so talkative I have to turn the lights off to get them to realize it is time to start class. I like that atmosphere too, though, and it’s clearly more relaxing for the students!
4. I enjoy the energy I feel from my colleagues as they talk about the new ideas they’ve implemented in their classes, the new content they will cover, and the plans they have for the semester. This seems to fade away a bit too quickly, so I soak it up while everything still seems fresh. I’m very grateful to have colleagues who are so passionate and energetic about teaching!
5. I get butterflies in my stomach as I go before a class for the first time. I used to think that was a sign of my inexperience or fear, but now I know it is pure excitement. I think the first semester I don’t have these butterflies, well, that just might mean it is time to stop teaching.
Enjoy the start of the new semester – before long, the semester won’t be new any more!