My classes start back today, bringing to an end the one-month period of midyear triage that some might call vacation time. While work inevitably continues during the holidays, that time is for many of us marked by a very different schedule and pace of life than the semester’s more rigid order of teaching and meetings.
By the first day back, all syllabi are (hopefully) ready and the major work of planning is done, yet I still find that starting off a new semester requires first surviving re-entry syndrome. Such feelings can accompany any adjustment with a major change of pace: Erin offered some strategies for handling the re-entry syndrome that comes with returning from a distant conference. Going from research or other work back to teaching is similarly disconcerting.
Many fellow ProfHackers have shared their tips for starting off on the right foot: Natalie gathered several time-management strategies for the new semester and Heather shared her new semester checklist, which I’m trying out myself this spring. And as George reminds us, planning can include life outside the university and even involve a major trip to the grocery store.
My beginning of semester rituals include planning upfront for appointment-based exercise (the early investment makes me feel guilty if I’m tempted to skip when crunch time hits later) and spending a week re-immersing myself in whatever I’m teaching. For programming courses, like the intro course I’m taking this semester, that means making new mini-games, while for more media studies oriented classes it means getting caught up with the latest readings. This helps ease the transition when I move into the classroom and back to topics that haven’t been at the forefront during the holiday, and gives me new ideas for how I want to approach my courses.
What are your strategies and rituals as spring semester begins? Share your re-entry management tips in the comments!