Finals Week

by Tabitha Kidwell

My 12 years of public schooling, 4 years of university, and 9 years of teaching add up to 25 years that my life has been set by the academic calendar – my silver anniversary! Over all those years, a few patterns have come to hold true, for teachers and students alike. For one, the first week back from a holiday is always miserable – given a taste of freedom, it is just painful to return to the shackles of the daily grind. The last week of a semester, when everyone just wants to be finished, is equally miserable, but with the promise of freedom lying just beyond that last exam.

So last week was notable because it was both the first week back from vacation and the last week of the semester. A freedom-misery sandwich, if you will. This strange occurrence happened because those two weeks I was galavanting around Bali and the Gilis were actually only my vacation – since I’m at a Muslim university, they don’t take the week of Christmas off. The Monday and Tuesday of each week were national holidays, though, and I hear not much got done Wednesday-Saturday anyways. After those 2 weeks off, I was dreading returning to work on Monday, especially given the two sessions of Speaking 3 final exam presentations and the pile of Evaluation of Language Teaching assignments that had been shoved under my office door. That first day, I ended up listening to almost 8 hours of presentations, leaving me way too wiped to work my way out from under this pile of papers:


Unfortunately, out of foolish devotion to assessment for learning, I had promised my students that I would turn their assignments around in time for them to revise them and submit them in their final portfolio, so I graded all morning on Tuesday, only to be rewarded with this on Wednesday:


… and again on Thursday…

Ok, I know this is the same pic as before, but  I forgot to take a new one.  Just imagine lots more folders and envelopes that look exactly like these!

Ok, I know this is the same pic as before, but I forgot to take a new one. Just imagine lots more folders and envelopes that look exactly like these!

… and a few more stragglers on Friday and Saturday.

But now, the magical moment – I am FREE! No more classes to teach, no more papers to grade. The grade book is filled out, percentages are calculated, grades are assigned. Time to breathe a sigh of relief and relax until the next semester starts in March!

Well, actually, not really. Since this is only a 10-month fellowship, we aren’t really given any vacation time. I mean, no one is really keeping track – I clearly find enough time to relax on tropical beaches. But I am encouraged to plan some kind of worthy pursuit to occupy my time during school vacations. So from now until March, I’ll be traveling all over the place. Tomorrow, I’ll go to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help train the 75 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants who will be placed in schools around Malaysia. After that, I’ll spend most weekends in far-flung spots helping run English camps for Access Micro-scholarship students, who are part of a US State Department program that gives extra-curricular English lessons to talented but underprivileged youth. Work-related projects will take me away from Salatiga for the remainder of January and most of February. But don’t worry – I’m sure I’ll find plenty of time to chill on the beach!

One Comment to “Finals Week”

  1. So glad to be working together in KL! See you tomorrow night!

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