The time “between” terms is always a challenging one for me to manage. At my university, spring term ended on last Friday, classes ended a week earlier, with grades due on Tuesday (2 days ago). And summer term begins on Monday.
Students are clear between terms. They turned in their papers and exams, and await their next directions, which are still a solid week away. Me? I just finished grading the last few papers Monday night, and now I’m finishing up a bunch of paperwork (GA/TA evaluations! Service hour verifications!) and starting to feel the panic of new classes starting in a few days. I had hoped to have a break. I will not have a break.
I feel both rushed and compelled to rest. I’ve been looking back to last term out of necessity. I need to be able to complete all of the checklists and file it in the archives, but in the midst of those tasks I want to be looking forward. Grading and filing all required paperwork has a final deadline and gets prioritized for that reason, but course planning has felt so much more urgent all week. I want to start the new term feeling centered and organized. I want to have everything nailed down sooner rather than later. Is Friday unreasonable? If I have it all done, I could take the weekend off. Really, truly off. With no obligations. That would be glorious and rare.
This time, the panic feels worse than usual. First, it’s a tight turnaround. There’s more time between summer and fall, and fall and spring (although the latter is squeezed with the holidays). By this time of year I find that everyone — myself included — just wants to drop with exhaustion and enjoy the lovely weather. However I have classes with major changes to them. I can’t just copy what was done the last time. One class has been taught in a 6-week term for the last 6 years. This year it’s going to the 12-week term. The other has been taught on campus, and this is the first online offering.
I have things I want to do in the time between. I have whiteboards that I want to fill with my scholarly plans. I want to see my projects and ideas laid out clearly, a guide for my work over the next several months. I want to take a few long walks. Work in the garden. Sleep in (okay, that plan will be thwarted by having a kid who needs to go to school and weekend activities by 9 am).
It’s a weird week, this time between terms. It neither fits a rhythm of a typical term, nor defies a rhythm in the way that vacations do.
Just another year in academic life. Bring it, summer!