One week from today, I will be "back" at work. What that means is that it is the first day back for faculty at the university. It also means that we are back on payroll (big sigh of relief). Of course saying that we have gone back to work ignores all of the work that people in education do over the summer, catching up on reading, writing, curriculum planning, grant writing, teaching summer classes, developing new research projects, mentoring doctoral students, advising masters students... The myth that people in education get their summers off is just that: a big old myth.
People in education, whether its P-12 or higher ed, do not get their summers off. It's time they work without pay. I'm not complaining, mind you, because my time is my own. In truth, I could choose not to do much of anything over the summer, but then I'd be a mess the first weeks of school (even more-so than I already am). I do take time off over the summer (this year was planting new gardens, training for a 60 mile walk-a-thon, housebreaking a third dog, taking care of an ill parent), but I also spend a lot of time on work related tasks.
This summer was pretty productive given all the other things I did in the last three months. I finished and submitted two manuscripts for review, wrote and submitted a proposal to a national conference, reviewed 12 proposals for the same national conference, began to draft a new article, re-wrote two syllabi, researched and read about an area of research completely new to me, began to organize myself for a new university-level post regarding curriculum, reviewed and commented on a doctoral proposal, looked into grants... the list goes on.
The difference between the type of work that a university faculty member gets done over the summer versus what happens during the school year concerns time-intensity. Teaching, planning, and grading is really hard. But there's also a time limit on it. You are either prepared for class, or not. Writing is very different. My writing colleague and I spent 8 months working on one article. Granted, we didn't spend all our time on it, but this summer we spent a good 60 hours on it. It takes time to complete research and write about what you've learned. But the product often doesn't necessarily reflect the time invested.
So, I have 7 days before we go back, 8 before I teach my first class. I'm hoping to make final revisions on my syllabi, build a draft of a survey, finish two more manuscripts, and write up a short piece on the new research project I started this summer. All in 8 days. I'm not sure if I can do it, but that's the nature of academic work.
And somewhere in there I will also post one or two more times, build this blog a bit more, and ready it for the new semester. All in days' work, right?