Now that everyone has settled in for fall semester, I cannot help but ponder and wonder about what makes it so different for a new retiree from the educational system.
Gabe and I retired after the spring semester of 2019, a mere three months or so ago. These months have been filled with house improvements, office vacating and of course trips to San Antonio and Chicago that questions about how it feels to be a member of the “Every day is Saturday” Club still does not ring true for us.
All I know is that when I finished getting rid of 30 years of work into nine large garbage and recycling bins, someone made the comment that I should be glad that I do not have course preparations to worry about. And true enough there are a few things about the teaching profession that I confess I will not miss.
I will not miss driving with the sun in my eyes on my way to La Crosse in the morning and on the way back home in the afternoon. Although the 30-minute drive each way was a method to gather my thoughts before meeting my classes and to unwind on my way home to come together with family, I certainly will not miss the dangers that it posed when driving through wind, rain and snow which was responsible for a few accidents.
I will not miss being subjected to what we call SEIs (student evaluation of instruction) every single semester. One would think that after being granted tenure and being promoted from assistant to associate and eventually to full professor that one would be spared this every semester agony and be evaluated every two or three years instead.
I will also not miss giving grades. The entire process from test formulation, to test reading, to final computation does not only stress the students but instructors as well.
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For many years I sacrificed Christmas celebrations because I was grading in church while saving seats and waiting for mass to begin; on Christmas morning right after opening presents and having breakfast when I would spend the whole day reading answers to essay questions since final grades were usually due right after Christmas.
Even though Excel does the computation and I tell my students I am just the accountant who keeps track of their performance, a lot of work and attention goes into the verdict that the professor metes out. And although many have advised me to “give them all As,” I know that students perform within the A to F spectrum and a just grade has to be given to them.
By retiring when I did, I have also avoided two major changes occurring on our campus. And even though this old dog can still learn new tricks, the advent of Akindi and Canvas became just too overwhelming.
Akindi was to replace the old scantron system of grading multiple-choice questions. It was supposed to make things easier for the instructor without having to rely on the computer center people for the output which I have not have problems with. I did try my hand at Akindi and it seemed that it was more work than what it was promised to be.
The second change has to do with moving from the campus course management system D2L (Desire to Learn) to Canvas. I had already been through the change from Blackboard to D2L. We have had D2L for many years and initially only my online courses were on it, but during the past few years all my courses availed of posting materials into D2L. I also tried my hand at Canvas but encountered problems with it that I decided that if I did not need to learn it why bother? This old dog can refuse to do new tricks!
So as my former colleagues are busy with the fall semester of 2019, I am grateful for the 30 years of association with an institution that has done many things for me. But other things in my life have become more important than the joy of being in the classroom. And who knows – after a few weeks of classes, I might miss it as well.