Finals week is upon us at DePauw, one of my favorite weeks of the year, a week in which I no longer have the adrenaline-fueled stress of teaching and don't yet have the laborious slog of grading, a week in-between to catch my breath and make progress on various work/life tasks deferred as the semester intensified in busyness.
I have to confess that my final grading isn't even going to be all that sloggy. In an upper-division course such as my Rawls course, I have the students write two 8-10 page papers during the course of the semester, and then for their final paper, they are to take one of those papers and revise and expand it into a more ambitious 15-page paper, drawing on the extensive comments I provided them on the initial paper. Less stress for them, as they are building on work already in progress. Less stress for me, as I have already read a good portion of the final paper and thought carefully through its arguments.
While I am waiting for these new, improved papers to make their way into my in-box, I'm reviewing children's books for the online review service Children's Literature, editing papers for the ethics and children's literature collection I'm assembling from papers presented at my big conference last fall, and trying to write a (short) chapter a day on my time-travel book about an enchanted cookie jar (the kids travel back in time by baking period cookies and putting them into the jar; they return to their own time by eating the cookie).
There's also time for walks in the nature park, lunches with friends, a few last end-of-term celebrations, including English department graduation reception this coming Thursday night, Philosophy department graduation reception this coming Saturday afternoon (teaching in two departments this year means double the end-of-term fun), creative writing senior seminar readings, a church picnic, DePauw Under the Stars on Saturday night (with the campus magically transformed with little twinkling lights on every tree), all culminating in commencement on Sunday.
I know my poor, dear students are stressed, and I feel for them as I see them sprawled over every available surface out here at the peaceful Prindle Institute, cramming away for grueling exams to come. But for me, finals week is the merriest week of the merry month of May.