Summer Break

Teachers and professors are a little touchy when summertime rolls around. After the intensity of the academic year–in my case, nine months–the committee meetings, stacks of students essays, multiple lesson preps, and interpersonal negotiations cease. We field comments from non-educators who enviously or accusatorily note our summers off. In the public eye, in the public target, we’re sensitive in summer. Do we take that three month vacation others imagine we’re having, even if it’s more of a staycation in yoga pants and cheap Target tank tops? Do we defensively list our plans for professional development and course overhaul? Do we cite our dwindling bank accounts as we pay bills with a nine month salary? I’ve seen and tried all of the above, oscillating between guilt and glee for these restorative months.

This summer, I’m not teaching. I am serving as an English placement advisor for my campus, which means reading essays for all incoming students and suggesting which English composition class they should take. It means being present at six registration sessions throughout the summer to help autumn’s students settle their schedule now.

I’m beginning my tenure as the 2011-2012 Wisconsin Teaching Fellow for the UW-Colleges. I’ll attend a half-week of Faculty College next week, learning how to conceptualize my Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) project. I’ll spend a week in Madison next month pulling the initial project together.

I’m attending a digital humanities un-conference, THATCamp LAC, next week, where I’ll learn how to integrate technology into humanities projects.

I’m participating in a National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) summer workshop on the maritime culture of the Great Lakes.

And, I’ll be writing, working on a poetry project and several memoir pieces.

I’ll be reading–that stack of books next to my bed threatens to topple, and so I select one book after another to wander into poetic turns of phrase and sublime narrative worlds.

I’ll revamp two of my four courses for fall semester, rethinking assignments and reading new texts I selected.

And, I’ll sleep, laugh, love, daydream, walk. I’ll stretch through yoga classes and wander through farmers’ markets. I’ll sun and swim at the beach, drink and laugh at outdoor concerts.

It’s a pretty busy three months, don’t you think?

I couldn’t be happier or more excited, to learn and grow as the world blossoms and warms and thrives under the steady sun and intermittent rain.

And then, come September, I’ll return to the classroom, refreshed and revitalized to better teach and learn with my students, full of stories of how I spent my summer break.