Skip to main content

Lame Duck Teaching

Image courtesy of Bearseye on

I was speaking to a faculty member the other day who commented that the two weeks between the Thanksgiving break and finals often feels like a lame duck session.   Everyone sees the end in sight and she has just as much trouble as her students staying focused (especially when the holiday festivities begin).  What’s a well-intentioned professor to do?

  • Be sure you are getting enough rest
  • Prioritize your time and activities.  You may need to respond to invitation/requests/suggestions with “That sounds great and I’d love to do that.  I can’t right now but can I do it _____?”
  • Try the Pramack Principle: Tell yourself you can engage in the fun activities once you’ve completed your grading or finished your proposal, for example.
  • Don’t forget to eat real food from time to time instead of subsisting on holiday cookies, candy, and fruitcake
  • Meditate
  • Ask for help if you need it

By staying focused, we can turn a lame duck period into a time of great productivity so that we can enjoy the end of the semester celebrations guilt-free.