Often after the semester ends, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to think about or plan for the next semester. However, by doing some planning in the summer, you can reduce stress that you may experience at the beginning of a new semester. You can also reduce the amount of time you spend preparing for class during the semester.
My semester ends a few weeks before my children get out of school. This gives me a couple of weeks to check some things off my summer “To Do” list before they are home with me all day. My list consists of things that I have a hard time fitting in during the school years such as doctor’s appointments and home improvement/organizational tasks. But it also includes tasks related to teaching; things that I don’t have time to get done during the school year, because of all of the hustle and bustle.
By completing professional tasks in the summer, I feel more prepared and relaxed when I begin the next academic year. Here are some things I recommend that you consider doing during the summer months:
1. Review Textbooks in Your Discipline
Contact book publishers and ask for desk copies of textbooks that you may be interested in using in your classes. The summer provides a great opportunity to review content in textbooks to determine if it would be beneficial to the students in the classes that you teach. Some textbooks will also include resources to accompany the textbook that you may also want to review. The resources may provide additional ideas for lecture and activities to use in teaching the content.
2. Update Lectures and PowerPoints
Remain current in your discipline. Review the current research in your discipline that applies to topics you are teaching and update lecture and powerpoints that you will present in class.
3. Plan New Activities
Develop activities that will assist in teaching the content in your classes. Active learning opportunities help students to engage with the material which assists in their learning of the material. Consider learning styles as you develop activities. Can you incorporate a auditory, visual, and kinesthetic component when presenting the material?
4. Search for Additional Content
Videos and additional resources can very powerful when presenting material. Search for videos on topics that you present. Use videos that help to illustrate different topics you are teaching. You may also locate resources such as online surveys that could be implemented into your lectures.
5. Review Current Research
By remaining current in your field of study, students can be provided with the most up-to-date information. You may locate research articles in the university library that you wish to share with you students as supplemental reading. You may also use the articles to update lectures, powerpoints, and other teaching resources.
I try to complete these tasks shortly after the semester ends. This is when the changes that need to be made are the freshest in my mind. This also ensures that I still have a few weeks of downtime at the end of the summer to recharge for the upcoming semester. I can spend time with my family traveling, spending time by the pool, and watching my kids participate in activities.
While the summer is a nice time to rest and relax, it goes by very quickly. Before you know it the new semester is beginning. If you haven’t spent time planning and preparing, this could lead to a stressful start in the fall. So spend a little bit of time preparing for the following semester! And then get out and enjoy your summer!