Teaching over the summer

Having found myself in several ‘normal’ university campuses in recent weeks, I’m reminded that most of you have an obvious cycle to the year.

Right now, I imagine you’ve probably put most of your teaching duties to bed, with final assessments done and graduation ceremonies leaving you with the usual dilemma of ‘what goes with a gown?’

I also imagine that you will know of colleagues who see this as the point in the year where they get to focus on the ‘proper bit’ of being an academic: research.

But you’re not like that; you understand that teaching is an integral and essential part of the job too.

So some quick thoughts about this time of year.

Firstly, capture your fine thoughts about your teaching now. As with every class you have, your proximity to that interaction made you think about how you’re doing, and how you could do better.

Making a note of that as you go is ideal, but now, with the whole year just behind you, is also a great moment to take stock, while it’s still fresh in your mind.

Waiting until just before the start of the new academic year is likely to result in several good ideas getting lost, or just trampled in the rush.

So the second thought is to avoid the trampling.

Update handbooks/syllabi/VLE/etc now, as much as you can. Again, you’ll have the thoughts of the last use fresher in your mind and even if you can do it all until someone in a back office works out the timetable, you can certainly ease the load.

And maybe next year you might try creating a living draft of the 2024-5 materials, to make that even smoother.

Finally, now is a good time to work on whatever bigger teaching project you might have.

Maybe that’s trying out a new thing in class, or a switch to flipped, or a restructuring of sessions. All these macro changes take time and effort, so you can’t really leave them until later.

And if you want to make some more of it, think about writing a paper/blogpost about the changes: you get a research output, plus you like about how you embed data collection, plus an editor out there [waves] will love to hear from you, plus colleagues elsewhere will benefit from your insights.

What’s not to like?