In my first From the Archives post, which also happened to be about wrapping up the semester, I mentioned the “cyclical nature of academic work.” Semesters begin, and then eventually, no matter how crazy things seem, we get to the end. Before you close your office door and head off for the winter break, take care of some virtual or literal housekeeping tasks and prepare a bit for the upcoming term.
Update and Organize Your Teaching Materials
While this semester’s courses are still in your mind, write yourself a few notes about revisions or updates you’d like to pursue next year.
Now is also a good time to organize your teaching files from this semester for archiving and easy future reference.
As Ethan says in his excellent End of Semester Checklist,
When things are (relatively) fresh in your mid, the end of the semester is a great time to update your CV. Trust me, as soon as you switch gears and hit the egg nogg, the details of your accomplishments that semester will be a lot harder to dig out of your brain.
Back Up Your Files
We write a lot about backups here at ProfHacker, because we all know too well (or know someone who knows) how painful it can be to lose an important document or set of data due to hardware failure, environmental disaster, or just simple error. Jason’s Annual Reminders–Backups points out that your backup plan should include “automated, redundant, and rotated” elements to ensure the safety of your personal and professional files.
- Dropbox is a ProfHacker favorite not only for making it easy to transfer and synchronize files across different machines, but also for doing quick backups of your crucial files.
- Online services such as Mozy, Backblaze, and Cloudberry can help you automate your backup process.
- Consider backing up those items you have stored in the cloud.
- If you maintain a personal or course blog, now’s a good time to back up your website. Kathleen offers some additional tips for WordPress blogs.
- Ethan suggests backing up your social network content, too.
- And, of course, check your backups.
Plan Your Winter Break
Right now, if you’re buried under a heap of grading, it’s easy to just fantasize about the winter break as offering you the chance to do everything that you’re not doing right now. Taking a few minutes to reflect on what you really want and need during the winter break can help you get the most out of that time.
Here are some questions to think about:
- How do you feel right now? (Overwhelmed by grading? Tired from the semester? Energized by winter weather?)
- How do you want to feel during the winter break? (Relaxed? Intellectually engaged? Creative?)
- How do you want to feel when the winter break ends? (Satisfied? Prepared? Nurtured?)
- What five actions could you take (either one time or repeatedly) that would help you feel the way you want to during and after the break? (For instance, if I want to feel more rested, in addition to sleeping an extra hour in the morning, I might nap, read novels, or take a hot bath at night.)
(These questions are taken from The Great Winter Break Workbook which is available on my website.)
What are your favorite tips for wrapping up the semester? Let us know in the comments!
[Creative Commons licensed photo by flickr user flickrfavorites]