As final projects for my class are coming in, I can't help but feel a very sharp sense of nostalgia - the semester seemed to finish up quickly, and it's a relief that perhaps I have been feeling more than my students, who still have a week of classes left, and other reports and final projects due, too.
In the last few weeks of the semester, my role has very much shifted from bringing prepared materials to class, organizing the nature walk for each tutorial, and in general, coming with announcements and other prepared materials (though the announcements, as they were relevant for the class, continued), I had to relax and let go of that sense of needing to run the tutorial. Reality was, I was shifting from leading the tutorials to offering the tutorials as a space for group work time; the restoration design projects the students were working on are not small projects, and the tutorial was a scheduled time during the week where the groups could meet, with all members in attendance (otherwise they couldn't have signed up for the tutorial). So, I wanted to respect that time, and moved between the groups, answering questions, offering advice, and providing suggestions as the conversations arose.
Now that the assignments are coming in, it is very much a delight to see how polished the final documents are, and I'm excited to start reading them, but this also makes me realize that I won't see the students together again, and will not be meeting with them, checking in on them, and in general, getting ready for tutorial with them again. Sad Tuesday.
I suppose what I'm saying is that I didn't realize I was as attached to, and invested in their learning experience as I was, and now that it's done, I can look over the last few months, reflect, think about what worked well and what I would do differently for next time, and remember funny times or great moments in class. Two in particular come to mind: the name game that I played with each of the tutorials, and the laughter of having different students make extremely fun noises to go with their actions in the game ('merp' 'honk' 'boop' 'bing'); and another time, when I was trying to be accommodating with the different interests students had for their group projects: I was trying not to simply say, Student X, you need to change groups because Group P is short one person, but I was sort of told of by a quip that "That's what you're supposed to do," implying that I was trying to be too accommodating. Point taken, I suppose, although it worked out by opening the option to the tutorial as well. I suppose the solution would be to frame it differently in the future, by saying something along the lines of, "If no one wants to move voluntarily, then I will select one person myself."
We also had nature walks during all of the tutorials, and the spring time can be a tricky time of year as the trees don't have leaves on them (for some, the most helpful identifying feature) and the bushes, too, or in some cases flowers hadn't yet bloomed, so I realized in the weeks afterwards that I'd misnamed 2 plants! That was fun. But I felt a bit better about the big caveat I always give, which is to 'never trust a biologist' (advice I was given myself in a field school a few years ago).
Anyways. Students. So fun. Teaching is a really heartwarming, encouraging activity, and it was a pleasure to work with the students I had this year.