I slept in until 8:30. I have now lingered over my coffee for a whole hour. Time to get to work!
- Get my shoes on. (this is a major thermodynamic hurdle — I’m hoping the coffee provided enough activation energy to get the process started.)
- Walk out the door to the lab. Usually by this point the reaction is mildly exothermic so it should go smoothly.
- Say hello to the grass spiders living in the shrubbery outside my lab.
- Feed all the spiders inside my lab.
- Walk home.
- Stretch. Crack my knuckles. Open up all the lab reports my students submitted to Canvas last night. Stare at them, mildly stupefied.
- Start grading them, eventually. Do that all afternoon.
- Return to awareness. Eat dinner. Wonder where the day went.
Tomorrow they turn in a homework assignment, and I’ll do exactly the same routine on Monday.
There’s one thing my students haven’t quite figured out yet. I do set deadlines on all the assignments, because the software requires it, but…I don’t care. I just want them to do the work so they know how to do the work, and so I can see where maybe they’re going down the wrong path, but deadlines are an invention of The Man (or maybe Satan). Try to turn things in on time so they don’t pile up on you, but if it’s a few days late, I’m OK with that.
But these are all conscientious Midwestern kids, many of them first generation college students, so I get an amazing flood of email the day of, full of apologies and reasons why they didn’t meet the deadline, which I have to read, too. I get all these panicky messages sent just before midnight, “oh no I couldn’t solve this problem, I’m struggling with it, I can’t get it done on time” followed by a 3am follow-up, “I figured it out, I submitted it a little late, I hope that’s OK”.
I just want to say…Dudes. It’s fine. The software sets this specific 11:59pm deadline minute, but I’m sleeping then. I’m not hovering over the computer, ready to dock points from anyone who turns it in at 12:01am. Or even noon the next day. The only real deadline is when I go over the answers in class a few days later, because I want you to think them through yourself, rather than getting handed them. If you turn something in a little late, well, that’s a time-management issue you should work on, but I’m going to pretend it was turned in precisely on time and give you full credit, because I don’t care. All I care about is whether you learned the subject matter.
I guess I’d have to worry if every student procrastinated and I couldn’t get the bulk of the grading done at the time I set aside for it, but that hasn’t happened yet in 40 years, and the Midwestern work ethic means it’s not going to happen in the near future. Chill. Go for a walk. Enjoy the flowers and the spiders while you can. Biology isn’t a punishment drill, it’s supposed to be something that makes you happy.