Today was our last day of regular classes. Next week we have finals. So today in my class we reviewed for the final, which I based primarily on class discussion. (This is to reward those students whose attendance did not suddenly fall off after the midterm.) I also had a number of pizzas delivered to the classroom, which they must have liked as they ate most (but not quite all) of them.
I also asked the students to fill out an anonymous form about their experience in the class. I worded it so that if they had anything bad to say, it wouldn't be so hard on me mentally to read it (i.e. "What should there have been more of in the class? ... What should there have been less of?") But I still dread any kind of reviews. I actually care what my students think, I guess. But at the same time, I have to do things that I know they will not like!
Some of them stayed to talk a few minutes after class, and told me that this was their most interesting class, and the only class they never skipped, and that I showed them that some people teach because they like to do so. I felt pretty flattered. I imagine that not every student feels that way, but it was still nice to hear it.
I do have the dilemma in which the number of close-relative deaths increases statistically significantly near finals, which I'm finding out is true for my class. The thing is, it may indeed be the case that more people die near the holidays (suicide, stress-related disorders, etc.), so I certainly can't dismiss them. It's hard to know what proof to ask for without being crass, too. When my family members died a bit ago, nobody asked me for any proof at all. (Of course, the doctoral program is quite the fishbowl, so we all know what's going on with each other anyway--it'd be kind of hard to lie about something like that. Also, it didn't happen during finals week.)
I guess I'll find out in the spring, when finals week doesn't coincide with any major holidays as observed here.
Meanwhile, here's a nice link to a German Christmas site, just because it reminds me of attending the Weihnachtsmarkt all those years ago ... frigid, still air, scent of deep-fried dough of some kind, tangerines, evergreen trees, cobbled streets, the horrible aqua-colored second-hand parka I had, and Boy George singing over the radio (which tells you how long ago it actually was).