Monday, July 25, 2011


Ensuring a Productive End to Your Summer
There are people out there who believe college professors work just a few hours a day each week and get a 3-month vacation every year.  Clearly, this is not the case, but what are you doing this summer to stay busy? Many faculty currently have book projects and research underway, are attending development workshops, planning their courses, and possibly even teaching. These faculty know that a productive summer can lead to an even more successful fall semester.
But others may view the summer as unstructured time, as a break from a tough previous semester, or even develop a sense of isolation during summer months—and this can impede getting a jump on the summer to-do lists. If you haven’t accomplished what you had hoped to so far, it’s not too late. So what are the secrets to getting the most (professionally speaking) out of the summer? 
  • Start by making a personalized summer plan with realistic goals. Identify what needs to be accomplished and note the steps needed to make each item on your list happen.
  • Next, be a daily writer! Even if it’s just a paragraph, write something every day, and even look for a group of “daily writers” for support. It’s also helpful to keep a log of what you do each day and how long you spent doing it. Finally, commit to accountability. Create the same sense of urgency for yourself that your students and colleagues feel regarding teaching and service, and apply it to your summer research and projects.
  • If you are on track or ahead with research and writing, it might be a good time to review plans and materials for the fall semester by incorporating some new techniques or innovative teaching strategies into your already-prepared course.
  • In case you missed the 2011 UT Summer Teaching Institute, you can get plenty of tips online by visiting some easy-to navigate sites and libraries that will help you revamp what you already have… or create something entirely new. The TENN TLC offers a variety of teaching tools and resources, including how-to guides and suggestions for improving your course.  For more information, Active Learning in Higher Education is a collection of research, focusing on development and innovative teaching. And for access to research studies, reflective essays, literature reviews, case studies and critiques/ comments, visit The Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Service.
If at this point in the summer you are caught up on research and writing, have no workshops or seminars to attend, are not teaching, and have reviewed course content and materials for the fall, you’re probably way ahead of your colleagues. Why not just find a cooler, a chair, and a good book? Here are the best reads for the summer for those of you that deserve an award for your summer productivity!
And, finally, for those who simply can’t bear the thought of opening one more book this summer, why not get out and enjoy the summer here in Knoxville? Here are some great local events & attractions to stimulate the mind. The Knoxville Writer’s Guild  is a community of writers who provide support and promote education and publication.  The East TN Historical Society and Museum  offers a wide selection of programs and events for anyone interested in history. And for a group outing with like-minded people, check out all of the available Knoxville Meet-ups, including interests for oenophiles, nature-lovers, entrepreneurs, and more; there are more than 130 meet-up groups available at; just search for Knoxville, TN.

guest writer Karen Brinkley, Tenn TLC