I gave my last final today, so all that is left is grading and the typical end-of-semester check-out, which I'll do this week. Then, I have a month off! Yay! I really do love teaching, but a month off is nice, too. Without it, I might not love teaching quite so much.
I don't mean this to be as flippant as it may sounds, but I was thinking about the last ten years of teaching, and it seems like every semester, I have students weeping during the final. Not over Spanish, at least not usually ;) It seems the whole principle of kicking someone while he is down comes into play, though, and students who are already stressed over exams go through very difficult personal situations this time of year. Relatives pass away. Miscarriage. A new pregnancy. Marital problems. Severe health issues in their children.
It is difficult sometimes to know how to respond, how to encourage them and help bear their burdens and maintain appropriate distance. I'm glad that they feel they can open up to me. For any cynics out there (I usually am one), it is generally the students who have earned a solid 'A' in the class, so it isn't an attempt to obtain mercy. I wish them grace, strength and hope in their challenges, though.
A few anecdotes for the aforementioned cynics: once, a student missed the final exam and called to reschedule. When I inquired as to why she had missed, she told me that she had gone shopping and found some marvelous sales. She sacrificed her grade, but looked fabulous. Another decided, perhaps after calculating her dismal grade, that it might have been good to have bought the book of homework assignments, after all. At the final she suggested going out and getting the book and doing an entire semesters worth of homework in the next day. I politely declined. I could come up with more. Fortunately, most of my students are responsible, rational people, though. The wackos are more entertaining, but also more fatiguing.