Monday, April 30, 2012

End of Semester Tips and Summer Productivity

The semester is finally over and, for many of us graduate students, the summer stretches out in front of us, promising mental recovery and long-forgotten normality. We probably all begin the summer with worthy goals in mind. We are going to do all our lesson prep in the summer, submit abstracts to 10 amazing conferences, finish that chapter, etc. However if you are at all like me, summer slowly sucks me into a state of euphoria and stupor. I find myself putting off important work because the summer seems like it will go on forever. Rather, we should be looking at it as a golden opportunity. Wrapped up in end-of-term grading, paper writing, and looming deadlines, we often take for granted what this moment has to offer. The end of the semester is a crazy time, but it is also the time to get organized, reflect, and plan. The summer is a much needed time of rest and regrouping, but it can also be the most productive period in your year. Below we have a bunch of links we pulled from the net about how to maximize your summer, starting right now with an End of Semester Checklist and Scheduling the Endless Summer.
    As these links suggest, this is the prime moment to gather any notes you took on your teaching, to go back through old files and make sure you aren't hanging on to what you no longer need, and update your own professional materials (CV, Linkedin profile, teaching statement). I also take this moment to go through the stacks of PMLA books, magazines, and articles I have collected over the semester to evaluate what I really want to keep. Find a system that works for you, but consider organizing your course work, articles, and student papers so that they are easily retrievable (and for heaven's sake - back up your files now!).
  Now many of us use the first month of summer to catch up on things we put off during the semester - the haircut, the oil change, the personal emails - this is just fine. One of the tips in Lessons for Summer Productivity is to go ahead and check items off your to-do list. However instead of getting bogged down in repainting your living room because it has been on the to-do list since you moved in, we suggest refocusing your energy to maintain momentum in May and to get the most out of the remaining summer months.
   Use this time to begin/update your CV, check out CFP sites for promising conferences (see our conference/abstract posts for some tips), catch up on important journals in your field, begin that theory reading / dissertation writing group (it may be easier to meet regularly in the summer months), prep for your Fall classes (go over your notes from the semester), catch up on some teaching tips (composition, pedagogy, and technology), create your dream-class syllabus (this will come in handy!), carefully consider your funding options for the coming academic year, and finally - take the time to peruse our blog! We have tried to collect helpful information throughout the year, and link to tried-and-tested resources for graduate students.
    Finally, we realize that some of our readers are facing a tough job market this summer, so we pulled together a few posts on how to Use Your Summer Wisely while on the market, and Making the Most of Your Off-Season Part1 and Making the Most of Your Off-Season Part 2. Some of these links are general Summer Advice for Job Seekers and some focus on How to Spend Your Summer Vacation if you already have a job lined up for fall.
   We will be reducing the number of blog posts over the summer, but please check back from time to time as we plan to post items periodically. Also, check out our new blog tabs at the top of this page (Documents and EGSA Board). We encourage you to follow our blog via email with the widget to the right, or "like" us on Facebook to receive updates. Your new EGSA board is gearing up for Fall, so stay tuned for an exciting new year.

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