The Last First Day

I had my last ever first day of the semester today. Since “spring” semester here in the upper Midwest really is a euphemism, especially for the first four months, I dressed for the weather:

last first

The boots came in handy. It was raining buckets when I left the house this morning; rain changed over to snow by the time I came home. Several inches of snow will be on the ground by tomorrow morning. I may need even bigger boots.

Today I met with my U.S. history survey students. Survey classes have made up the bulk of my teaching duties throughout my career. It’s been pretty standard for me to teach the first half of the U.S. survey in the fall and the second half in the spring. That’s how it worked out this academic year, too.

I started the class the way I always do, with a song. (I don’t sing. I use YouTube.) I chose Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” I pointed out the lyrics, “…don’t criticize
What you can’t understand….” to underscore the need for a knowledge of the past to make sense of the present.

On Wednesday we’ll dive right into the past, looking into what happened in this country when Reconstruction ended. The students look like a bright group. It should be a good semester.

I’ll meet with my other classes tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m fine tuning syllabi and assignment guidelines. There’s always so much to do, even in a final semester.


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