To paraphrase Charlie Brown, nothing takes the taste out of your veggie burger quite like being told that "every" student thinks the Summer Reading program you spent hours and hours and hours on is a joke.
I don't want to be as bothered by this as I am, 'cause I know how students are, but it just completely deflated me.
This information was given to me by a colleague at a cookout this afternoon--a cookout I was hoping to enjoy, as it would be an opportunity to catch up with some colleagues I hadn't seen all summer. According to her, students think the Summer Reading program is a joke because English teachers "never" follow up on it or collect the essays or anything. Which I know isn't true, but I also know isn't completely false. And, apparently, unless there's a test or paper or something, what's the point of reading a book? I did point out to my colleague that the Summer Reading assessment had changed this year, and students would need to show up with a completed project. That did not seem to matter.
Part of me wants to say, "Fine then. We'll make it super rigorous and give a test and make you write a super long essay. Happy now?" Part of me wants to passive-aggressively "apologize" to these kids for trying to make the Summer Reading program enjoyable. Part of me wants to tell the English department that if they're not going do the follow up on Summer Reading in the fall, then I'm not going to put so much work into developing and promoting it. Part of me feels super depressed at the idea of having spent three years trying to change the Summer Reading program into something that is less about work and more about enjoying reading, and seeing I haven't made a dent. Part of me is even more depressed that there seems to be a significant population of students for whom the idea of "reading for pleasure" is, essentially, meaningless.
It's a lot of parts. But all of them kind of want to cry.
ETA: Just to be 100% clear--I am in no way mad at or frustrated with anyone in the English department, regardless of how they've handled Summer Reading in the past. The whole idea is that it's not assessment intensive. I'm just feeling frustrated and deflated.