The holidays are upon us. No matter your religion, preference, or views, this time of year brings many things besides grading. After two lattes, I cut myself off and realized I needed to slow my grading roll for a few hours and do something else.
At the end of each semester, I like to try and stand back and observe my prior 15 weeks from the outside. This helps me plan, plan, plan for the weeks before the new term comes back around. While I’d like to drop the mic and all of my responsibilities, I cannot and neither can you. Planning is key for me to get set-up for the return of myself and my brain to work right after the New Year.
Before my car drives away to home and family, I outline what I want to get done and what I need to get done before classes begin again.
- What did I forget or put on the back burner before I left? (hopefully nothing, but probably not)
- How did classes go?
- What changes do I need to note in syllabi for the next time I teach it while they’re still ‘fresh’ thoughts?
- What outstanding things will come up over the holiday break that I might not be in town for? Did I take care of them before I left?
- What do I need to come back and get to work on? (yes, a submission deadline is waiting)
- What went well this semester that I should remember to acknowledge?
Some of this list involves me taking my mac home with me and I will likely do a little work during my break home, but it won’t be substantial, mostly managing any email. I also have a grant proposal that’s due right after the New Year that will need to be finished with my collaborators. Can’t do much about that unfortunately.
A lot of things went well this semester and this past calendar year. I met many submission deadlines, contributed to several grant projects, had several articles published, have grown the undergrad research team, sitting on graduate student committees, taught three classes this fall, and have what I hope will be a good piece of research to roll out in the spring based on the work the undergraduate research students I advise have worked on all fall. There’s a lot to be proud of and always more work to do. Before I leave, I’m going to take a pregnant pause and be proud of my accomplishments before I beat myself up over what I didn’t do this fall.
I hope you’ll take a moment to stand back and assess as well. It can be a great way to reflect while the information is still fresh in your mind and something as simple as jotting notes down can be helpful later on.
Enjoy your holiday season and I wish you some peace in your brain and in your email inbox.