Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Playing Catch-Up During the Waning Days of Summer

Ahh, as always, it feels like summer hasn't really begun and we are back to the grind of the school year. This is the time when my procrastination is hitting me full-force, and I have to play catch-up for all the things I should have been doing since June, but somehow fell to the back of my mind (and my calendar). For all you many, many new ASPer's out there, here is my not-quite-complete list of things I am doing that need to be taken care of before the school year starts. After classes begin, your life becomes a maze of student appointments, class prep, and crisis management, and these things, while important, just don't get done.

  1. If you are brand-new and don't have a job description, write one NOW. You don't want to be shocked when review time comes and you get poor marks for not achieving something you never knew you had to do. If you weren't given a job description, write one and discuss it with your supervisor. If you have a job description, meet with your supervisor to review exactly what they mean for each item.
  2. If you are not brand-new…make a plan to do something new this year. Step out of your comfort zone. Think out publishing something if you haven't done so yet. Ask about teaching a hybrid doctrinal/ASP class. Rewrite your syllabus from scratch. Doing just one thing that is new will bring back some of the excitement you had when you first started in ASP. If you don't make a plan now, you will drift into old ways as soon as the semester begins.
  3. Take your secretary out to lunch. If he doesn't do lunch, buy him chocolates. They will be your savior on days when you feel like you are wading through peanut-butter and you can't un-stick yourself from the mess.
  4. Get in contact with any rising 2L students who are "at-risk" after their first year. If you don't offer a class or seminars for them, it's always good to "check-in" and see how they are fairing emotionally and mentally.
  5. Review books you might want to recommend to students. Many great books come out each year, and if you don't review them over the summer, you never will during the year.
  6. File and otherwise organize. Unless you are compulsively neat, take a day to clean up and clear out the debris. It just feels better to start each year with a clean, organized office.
  7. Have lunch with any faculty members that are around that you haven't had a chance to meet. Many meetings turn out to be incredibly interesting. You would never guess where your interests and talents overlap with faculty and administrators you would think you have nothing in common with. Yes, some of the lunches are dreadful and boring (but those lunches make for GREAT stories at ASP conferences!)

(RCF)

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