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The grading is done. I'm ready for some summer fun

Updated: May 14

It’s that time of year. 

I received multiple emails from students in the evening. One of them was a gentle reminder that I missed an assignment they turned in, one explaining how the grade they received was “outrageous”, and another that confessed they were on academic probation and that I held their entire academic future in the palm of my hand like a fragile little bird. 


The dreams have returned as well.

I’m standing before my classroom, crowded with teenagers. They are not paying attention to me. I walk the room, trying to get the scope of it. It’s always a new room, new school, new set of students. It’s always the first day. Often there is not a back of the room, because as soon as I get close, it expands or introduces entryways into different nooks, crannies, or other rooms. I’m trying to maintain control of the scene, but I end up following students out the back exit, into other classrooms or outside settings. One time the classroom opened to a Logan’s Roadhouse, and I was rounding up teens with the sounds of the patrons eating and the too loud country music in the background. 

This is my cycle as an instructor. I go through this twice a year.

I understand the responsibility of grading freshmen who don’t realize that my class actually counts toward their GPA until the last week of school. They are always so full of hope that their choices won’t have actual consequences. 

And I recognize that as an instructor at a state university, I am probably one of the few who can match their name with their face. This means I am the only one they feel comfortable contacting: they confess, they grovel, they complain, they deny, and sometimes they rage. Because they can. Because I am the only one listening. 

In between emails (despite the fact that I am listed as Do Not Disturb and have an outgoing message that says I am unavailable) and finalizing the grades, my mind will sometimes drift off to happier places. Places that sound better in theory than actuality: cruise ships, horseback riding in Montana, shopping in New York, sitting in cafes in Paris.

I daydream about plopping my butt in a tube raft and floating around the pool with a drink in my hand. I fantasize about lingering mornings in my robe with a cup of coffee and a book that will not make me in any way smarter. I’m ready to change my perfume, my bronzer, and all of my clothing. 

And yet, I still have another week of stressing out over grades. 

Students cross these emotional boundaries. I am not made of stone. If a student emails me that their entire college career hinges on whether they pass my class, despite the fact that they missed half of the in-person class meetings, half of the homework assignments, and slapped together a paper at the last minute, I can’t ignore their feelings. 

I don’t want anyone in my class to fail, even when they haven’t earned the grade. I will look over a spreadsheet of zeros and Fs and wonder, “Why did it have to be this way?”

I realize I am enabling them. I give them second chances, do overs, half credit, and make ups. The reason, I think, is because they are young and dumb and full of contradictory logic. But I’m troubled this year. I wonder if by enabling them whether I'm shielding them from hitting rock bottom and having to face the consequences of their choices.

I worry. And the last thing I need is emails from students asking me to throw a couple of points their way because they’re supposed to be transferring to a new school, already on academic probation, play on a team, or have just had a hard time this semester.

I wonder if they think I have blind carte blanche to pass them, like some academic Santa Clause reviewing my list and saying, “Well, I know you tried to be good all semester. Ho Ho Ho.” 

But trying to determine teenager logic is fruitless. I was a big dumb baby, they’re all big dumb babies, all my coworkers also teach big dumb babies, and next semester, I’m getting a brand new crop of big dumb babies. 

Hubs referred to my job as Sisyphean. Each semester pushing that same boulder up the hill only for it to roll right back down to the bottom again. I repeat myself from semester to semester, and then also repeat myself all semester long, only to be confronted with the blank face of a teen who has been thinking about something other than my class telling me, “I didn't know that. How was I supposed to know that?” 

“Other than me telling you? Well, it was in the syllabus.” 

Y’all, I’m telling ya, when the last of these grades drop, I am so ready to have some mother-flippin summer fun! 

A tall glass full of amber liquid and an orange slice with a black straw next to a pool

Where do I even start? I've made a list of things I want to do as soon as the grades are done. I blocked off four days on my calendar where I am not working... on anything. I need this transition. I need the time for the anxiety dreams to stop. I need clean rest, a brain reset, and an intense face mask. And while I am on this break, everyone can just leave this long-haired country gurl alone. 

For the remainder of May, all of my posts will be devoted to the things I do for fun. 

No emotional burdens. No bummer stories with a bigger picture message. No dwelling on missteps, mistakes, or old demons. Only self care, laughs, and freedom. 

Join me, will you? Because it's going to be the most fun.

Remember, I am always talking about the things I love -- what I'm eating, drinking, reading, watching, playing, and more -- in the Books and Boots Newsletter. Get your monthly dose of Books and Boots delivered to your email when you sign up at

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