Archive for May 27th, 2014

As the semester comes to a close around the country, faculty members are faced with the prospect of free time for the first time in months. New faculty members, in particular, might wonder what to do with themselves. I am not the best person to give advice on how to manage large blocks of unscheduled time, but since my past three summers have been spent on some combination of collaboration with students and teaching, I feel qualified to say don’t give up your summers!

Spend your summer on recuperation. Spend your summer on the writing you didn’t get done during the academic year. Spend your summer on travel. Depending on the state of your other research, collaboration may be a good use of your time, but try not to sign yourself up for spending large blocks of time in a structured way. Last summer, for example, I was extremely productive until I started teaching in late June. Even though I was teaching a course I had taught numerous times before, spending three hours in a classroom four days a week made it nearly impossible to get other work done.

Underlying this advice, of course, is the assumption that you have the financial ability to spend the summer on independent work. My lack of productivity over the past few summers makes me even more sympathetic to the plight of adjuncts who find themselves at a distinct disadvantage when trying to find tenure-track jobs. Given the shrinking ranks of tenure track faculty members, my advice may be better stated as don’t give up your summers (while you still have the choice)!

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