I will confess to getting a bit overzealous when thinking about what my summers might entail. Despite the best of intentions, my plans for completely revamping my courses, or taking on a major writing project can often get translated into smaller accomplishments. This can especially be the case when the unexpected rears its ugly head and I find myself needing to do a better job of prioritizing what is most important.
Still, setting goals for the summer is a practice worth following. I use Robert Talbert’s planning method of thinking about my goals in terms of “trimesters,” instead of in annual increments. Each Fall, Spring, and Summer has its own set of measurable aims I make plans to accomplish. As I look toward the coming season, I plan to make progress in three areas:
My book is coming out in September 2018. The publisher has been a bit slow at getting me redlined edits, but I am grateful for that change of pace. Summer will give me the needed time and focus to wrap up this major project that will have taken about two years time, from the proposal writing to when the book will finally be released. A stretch goal for me would be to finish a proposal for my next book, which at this point is only a series of ideas percolating in my mind.
Each time I have the honor of talking with someone for the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast, I contemplate how I might better serve our students through some type of change. Having a list of potential approaches to experiment with becomes important, as I couldn’t possibly implement everything I hear about from these experts. This summer, I plan to keep my focus on assessment methods and grading. I am taking a workshop on digital badging with OLC this very week but also keep thinking about a recent conversation that has me thinking more critically about going too far with badges and gamification in my courses.
One of the most fun parts of summer is the ability to experiment with technology a bit. I usually put off most opportunities to do this during the semester, as there just isn’t adequate time to make big changes in my technological workflows. I keep a someday/maybe list in Evernote and only allow myself to indulge in this form of play during the Winter and Summer breaks. When I spoke with Eric Loepp for Teaching in Higher Ed, he shared how he does polls in advance of his political science classes and then displays the results in class. Primarily, I have only done polling live in a class. I am intrigued to explore what tools might facilitate this process the best, and what other ways I might incorporate these kinds of activities outside the classroom, only to bring them back in for discussion purposes. There are a bunch more technology tools I plan on trying out over the summer to help me teach more effectively, be more productive, and even have some more fun. I’ll be attending the Canvas conference at the end of July, which no doubt will add to the ideas that are brimming in my mind.
In case you also enjoy thinking through your summer plans, I present to you a series of ideas (in no particular order):
- Read a book about teaching: The Skillful Teacher and Small Teaching are a couple of my favorites from recent years
- Discover a new way to use Canvas to enhance student learning, or make your grading more efficient
- Explore the Canvas community to find ways to more regularly be inspired by what other faculty are doing
- Find a few videos to post in your Fall 2018 classes, using Arc – our new streaming video service (it’s fabulous – see a short demo here)
- Read a book that has almost-but-not-quite nothing to do with teaching (Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved, by Duke divinity professor Kate Bowles, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (a recent CCCU speaker and alum))
I would love to hear your plans for the summer, along with any books you recommend or fun tech tools to explore. I will be around South Orange County for most of the summer and would welcome the opportunity to join you for a walk or some coffee (well, in my case, iced tea). May God renew your spirit over the summer months and give you strength for the journey.