Dead Week

I love the last week of the quarter.

Students call it “Dead Week,” not because there is nothing going on, but because they are dead tired finishing all of their course work before finals.

The last week always puts me in a good mood, seeing everyone wrapping up projects, attending final presentations in colleagues’ courses, watching all of the angst gradually dissipate as everyone realizes they have successfully concluded another round of their education.

And when I’m in a good mood, I always want to listen to something energizing on my commute. In the winter, as now, I usually just ride my bike to the station, take the light rail to campus, and then ride to my office, instead of riding the whole way as when the weather is better.

One day during dead week, the ear buds came out and I’m not really sure why, but The Clash came on, and I was rocking out to “Lost in the Supermarket,” “Clampdown,” and “London Calling.”

And then, again I’m not sure why, the soundtrack to “La La Land” was irresistible, even if it made for an odd segue.

The music makes me reflect, somehow, on what a wonderful career this is, being able to work with so many talented students and inspiring colleagues.

Not the least of this appreciation is what is happening in our ASB project. All quarter, our students have been researching, planning, designing, and rehearsing the workshop they will lead for middle school students in Neah Bay. This process has been fascinating and so satisfying to be a part of.

Our idea from the beginning was that THEY would develop the curriculum. They all have knowledge of the subject—design thinking and human centered design—and different kinds of experiences in teaching, although not of this exact topic.

Watching them all grapple with large and deep issues of pedagogy in how to guide groups of middle school students through a week of hands-on activities to reach the goal of prototyping a mobile app has been wonderful. The crew shows tremendous dedication, professionalism, creativity, and passion for this.

And they are becoming teachers. In these few weeks with just a few hours together each week, they have come up with a detailed curriculum, lesson plans for each day, slide presentations, and ideas for how to engage and interact with the students.

Choosing to spend spring break working instead of catching up on life or just relaxing or doing things for oneself is quite a commitment. The camaraderie is in evidence; the humor and enthusiasm and the sheer energy has been inspiring.

As the planning phase comes to an end, we are looking forward to the trip out to Neah Bay, spending a week with 85 middle school kids and their teachers and families and community.

And each other.