Summer: The Hot Semester

There is often no such thing as the traditional summer off for adjunct instructors who are paid per class. Many adjuncts who need income during the summer need to line up as many summer classes as they can get. This can be a challenge, because colleges often offer fewer classes during the spring and summer semester, so there are fewer classes to go around for instructors.

But, say you have been lucky enough to be assigned some courses to teach. Congratulations! Now, how can you have a successful, productive teaching experience without totally missing out on the summer season? The Freeway flyer, who has not taken a summer off since 2005, has some pointers.

  • Purchase an extra long extension cord. Use this to power your lap top computer so that you can take it onto your patio or deck. A table with umbrella will make a nice desk for you. You needn’t slave away inside; papers can be graded outdoors almost as well as indoors. Perhaps, even better.
  • Take advantage of the longer daylight hours. You can weed a flower bed at nine o’clock at night, or take a late walk with your dog. You are not bound by short daylight hours; you have more flexibility.
  • Keep some comfortable sandals in the car for driving. You can pop on the closed toe, professional-looking shoes when you get to campus.
  • Follow the European’s lead and learn to value “mini breaks.” If you are teaching Monday through Thursday, you can leave right from school Thursday night and drive to some place wonderful. For example, I am often fortunate enough to be invited to my sister’s lake cabin during the summer. A three or four day stay at the lake is great for relaxing; when I return, I am fresh and ready to teach.
  • Try to squeeze in some traditional summer fun, such as summer reading. Some light “beach” books can be good recreation, something you can pick up and read a chapter at a time.
  • Plant lots of perennials, the type of plants that need little attention after they are established. You can enjoy the beauty with less work. Then, when you look up from those papers at your outdoor desk, you’ll have something lovely upon which to gaze.
  • You can use some time to get a head start on planning for fall semester; for example, if the school is adapting a new textbook, you can read it and become familiar with it. Or not, after all, you are already working hard and should be kind to yourself.
  • Some of your friends and relatives are fortunate enough to have the summer off, and may be able to come visit you. They have more time than you do right now, so let them make an effort.
  • If you have children who are home for the summer, be sure to set aside time for traditional summer activities. Plan some day trips to the beach or a nice, cool museum. With older children, now is a good time to let them demonstrate that they are able to help out and share responsibility around the house. This is also a good time for them to practice cooking and baking; it’s fun for them and everyone gets real food to eat. Good things can come to those who sort laundry and wash dishes.

Henry James said that the words “summer afternoon” were the two “most beautiful words in the English language.” If you play your cards right, you can have those summer afternoons, evenings, and mornings, too.

Have a great summer.

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