Today more than 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students will realize their educational aspirations by participating in the Fall 2019 commencement ceremonies. The growth we have seen in the number of graduates in December shows how vibrant our teaching mission is year-round. This is a testament to your dedication—our graduates’ successes are your successes, and nothing is more important to me.
We are also reminded at this time how invaluable and restorative the holiday breaks are to resetting our own outlook and expectations for the new year. The benefits of taking time to reflect on and reinforce our commitment to our work go far beyond our own personal goals and trajectories. Our disposition as educators and mentors can be as significant to our students’ achievements as the knowledge and expertise we bring to the classroom.
Please take this academic break to do just that—take a break, decompress a bit, and catch your breath. All of us benefit—students, faculty, and staff—when we are mindful, respectful, and encouraging of the need for time off.
In fact we should challenge ourselves to find ways to instill these considerations throughout the academic year to help maintain our collective balance and well-being.
As we look forward to the spring semester, I encourage you to consider these simple accommodations that will enhance the student experience and quality of the work taking place in and out of the classroom.
Limit the amount of homework during breaks.
Enrich the opportunities for constructive feedback by examining class schedules and staggering exams so that grades are not just dependent on a midterm and a final.
Post grades promptly, especially midterm grades, so that students understand their progress and needs.
Share your ideas for facilitating meaningful breaks with your colleagues—I would very much like to hear what works for you and your students.
I am deeply grateful for all you do for the U and hope you enjoy this special time with your family and friends.