Spring Break and Midterm Blues

I am not sure who is more in a state of depression, the college students or
faculty (and all educators everywhere) but I would assume like most; we all need a break. A break from grades, a break from projects, a break from lectures, a break from administration tasks, a break from campus, a break from meetings, from lesson plans, from parents and students, etc.

It is college spring break time as colleges tend to hold spring break or a spring
recess the first 2 weeks of March. This is also coinciding with the midterm tests,
midterm projects, and midterm grades. Both are taxing for students and
faculty alike. However, this year, I would say, probably one of my hardest and
most challenging midterm experiences in almost 10 years of teaching at the
college level.

Getting students to turn in midterms is like pulling teeth even though midterm projects were introduced at weeks 3 and 4 of this semester. Students departed the state to head south for fun or for sporting-related activities (games, training,
etc.) with no midterms submitted. Like it doesn’t even matter; not on the
radar; no big deal…

Midterms will make or break grades and GPA. As the semester moves on, the number of points gets larger, thus making it harder to impact or raise a low grade (like
digging out of a hole that someone keeps throwing dirt in). And like most
colleges, we abound with tutoring opportunities, student workshops on time
management, tremendous tools, and resources to help students be academically and
personally successful but they either do not attend or attend and do not

I blame COVID and horrible time management which leads to stress or anxiety (and
for some depression) as they see their work compiling. COVID created shut-ins who
didn’t have to do much to get through high school and now in college, they are told
they need to work, they need to show up, they need to engage.  Instead of using an agenda book, mapping out assignments, organizing time, and prioritizing their homework, projects, work, sports, etc., we have a group of students who just fall to the floor in despair; no accountability for their commitment to their courses or college education; use stress as a crutch, and they cannot rise above any or all circumstances in front of them. They are weak. (Not all are weak, but I would at least 50% to 60% fall in this category).

The midterm blues are legit. No matter all the email reminders, all the checklist
for homework (that I made for them), all the office hours, pep talks, etc.
doesn’t seem to increase the student’s abilities to actively take some
responsibility for their education and their grades. As I teach from a guide on
the side approach, and feel that grades are earned, not freely given, I find
myself completely baffled. As I spend hours trying to learn how to empower
these students, incorporate new teaching methods, create more space and time
for life skills development, mental health check-ins, or literally walking to
the dorms to check on students who have not been in class for weeks, at what point
are we doing more harm than good here?

Midterm grades go in this week and the quality of the midterm projects is the lowest I
have ever graded. Disappointment is an understatement. Anyone can tell that the
projects were rushed,  an afterthought, no higher-level thinking, no analytical thought, poorly written and organized. My midterm blues worsen. We need to turn a corner with collegiate academics or change the tide here from one that is of service to a group of highly stressed youth who cannot or will not develop time management abilities and take accountability for their educational journey to a group of students who are actively engaged in their education; who want to excel and find ways to intergrade/learn/develop skills, abilities, habits that help them be successful (hiding in dorm rooms from class is not an option).  Students with determination and grit. 

My spring break was highjacked by house cleaning, children’s appointments, training, grading, more work, and a little shopping. I did finish up 4 books and got to run more, work out more. We head for a short trip south when the kids are on break.

Only time will tell as the semester will come to an end in April/early May. For
those all working in education (at all levels) hats off to you. You are my
people. As we are all trying to educate and prepare a generation of socially
engaged citizens and workforce, I know the days are long, but may your spring
break be longer.

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