REPOST: This is from last summer (July 2014). This summer was pretty much the same except for not having summer students.
It is the time of year when I get asked what I’m doing at this time of year. Perhaps for students more used to seeing academics within the strictures of the semester timetable, it’s a bit bewildering to think of what an academic might do all summer. Indeed, we may not be doing very much of anything – 3 months off! Perhaps for the rest of the working world, a radical change in work environment for 3 months seems strange or unseemly. Or perhaps most people just don’t think about it until they encounter a stray academic in the high days of summer.
So what am I doing with this vast expanse of time* that is non-semester time?
Teaching: I know! Who knew that academics might spend some of the summer on teaching related activities? Once all the marking for semester 2 was complete, we had meetings to discuss the marks. And then more meetings to discuss the modules. We’ve got resits coming up in a few weeks so we’ve only just finished writing more exam questions for the resits (and sorting out course work reassessment). Once the resits are sat, you’ve guessed it, we’ve got marking followed by…more meetings to discuss the marks**.
Preparing for Teaching: We’ve just finished a curriculum review and our new third year modules start in October so most of us are preparing our new teaching materials. This might be writing lectures, tweaking existing ones, trying to get new topics to make sense from the perspective of one who teaches, planning course work and laboratory sessions.
Administration: because paperwork doesn’t go away. We’re planning a new course so some people are writing modules. I’ve got the joy of programme regulations and specifications; issues of professional accreditation; sprucing up recruitment material (which is an ongoing battle in the face of a curriculum review); assimilating changes to procedures such as attendance monitoring, extenuating circumstances and academic warnings; sorting out timetables; and generally trying to do as much as possible before term kicks in once more.
Research: I have two summer students, had three work experience students last week. I have several papers that I want to make good headway into and back ground reading to do on a couple of new projects.
*no sarcasm intended, meetings that discuss students progression and retention on the course are taken very seriously and lead to both heartbreak and joy in equal measure.