I love when people say to me “it must be nice to be a teacher and have your summers off”. I don’t know about you, but time off is something that is scarce in my life. While my summer schedule definitely looks different than the schedule I follow during the academic calendar year, I would not classify it as time off. I have different tasks to complete in the summers that help to make my job a bit easier and smoother when school resumes in the fall. Preparation, during the summer, helps to make me feel relaxed at the beginning of the semester when I am not only preparing myself for the beginning of the semester but also getting my kids in ‘back to school’ mode and helping them get use to a new routine.
Write and Revise Curriculum
In the summer, there are a lot of things that I do to prepare for the upcoming school year. I update my lectures and powerpoints and find new resources such as articles, videos, and activities to incorporate into my classes. In the summer, I have more time to review resources such as textbook and research articles to incorporate into the classes I teach. I have reviewed several resources such as new textbooks and was even able to work with a publisher on a custom textbook for a course I teach. I also explore the university library for recently published research articles that could be incorporated into classes. This allows me to stay abreast of the new developments in my field of study.
I can also experiment and consider using different technologies in classes. This summer, I have been researching Loom. This is a free program that allows you to create short videos to provide feedback and comments (rather than typing them out). This seems to be a less time consuming and a bit more personal way to provide feedback. I am considering this for providing feedback to students on written assignments as well as for collaborating with colleagues on research projects.
If any readers have used this program, please feel free to share your experience below. Your feedback is appreciated!
Research and Presentations
The summer provides a great opportunity to work on research projects. I find it hard to write during the fall and spring semesters due to other responsibilities that often take precedence. Finding some time to research and write up findings is easier for me in the summer months. A colleague and I have been editing and revising an article we wrote, so that it can be submitted for publication.
I have also been working with two colleagues to prepare a study that can be conducted in the upcoming academic school year. We will be submitting our proposal through IRB and will collect data during the academic year in hopes of having the data available next summer so we can spend sometime analyzing it and writing up the findings.
I have also been preparing a conference presentation with a colleague. We will be presenting at a conference in October and have been taking advantage of the down time that we have in the summer to discuss and prepare our presentation.
In addition, I have been teaching online classes this summer. I do this for several reasons. It also allows me the opportunity to teach graduate level classes. It provides the opportunity to teach classes that I would normally not teach during the regular semester and give some additional time to prep material for these classes. I enjoy teaching graduate level students. It is a nice and sometimes needed change.
It is also a nice way to supplement my income. This allows me to pay for vacations for my family. It also allows for some extra income to pay bills, student loans, and to make needed home improvements.
Online teaching can be time consuming; however, I can arrange my days and weeks to fit my summer schedule completing work early in the mornings or in different settings (like in my car while driving to CA for my family vacation – thank goodness for Hot Spot!).
Flexible Office Space and Hours
My office space looks a little bit different in the summer. It is mobile. I may take my laptop to the pool and work while my kids participate in swim practice. I may wake up early and work at the kitchen table for a few hours before my little humans begin to stir. Sometimes, I head to the local library with my kids in tow and while they check out books and read or participate in one of the library activities, I get a little bit of work done. I am a mother as well as an instructor, and teaching is not my only responsibility. This also makes the term “time off” extremely humorous. Moms….do we ever really get ‘time off’?
So, while I definitely appreciate the change in pace that the summer months offer, I do not consider my summers “time off”. I never completely disconnect from my identity as an educator. I am constantly considering ways to improve my teaching practice, serve my students, and grow as a professional. I am sure some of you can relate. So…what have you been doing this summer to prepare?