A very common question we get as faculty is about how we will spend our summers relaxing. Although we wish our students well and hope they take our advice of spending some time to unwind in the summer, we are hard at work for the majority of that time. I can certainly speak for the teaching focused faculty members, summer is preparation time, catch up time, time to innovate, time to correct, time to learn, time to write, time for reference crafting… During the year we don’t have time to catch our breath or be creative, it’s just go time. Although I first thought that after a few years, I would have an easier time with preparing for a new school year, I have found there is always something to do, recreate and redesign.
In more recent years I have picked an area of my job to focus on, not at the expense of other tasks, but something that will take more of my time and energy to get right. My big job this year is recreating a third year cell physiology course with our new teaching team. We have started from the ground up. Although so much of my summer has been devoted to all the components of this course, I know it probably won’t be perfect the first time around. That drives me crazy but like all new lectures, the perfection comes in the failing and fixing. I will spend the fall semester in the actual giving of the course, and the following summer in the modifications and adaptations to make it better.
So summers for faculty members is busy. I would argue busier than the regular school year but I wouldn’t trade this career for anything. Don’t feel bad for us or think that this at all is a complaint of the type of work, every job has it’s drawbacks. It is just that nature of having a career, it’s hard work but it’s rewarding work. We do all try and take some time for vacation in the summer, but for the most part, it’s just a regular week in the office.