There is a common misperception that teachers do not work in the summer. Sometimes, when people find out what I do for work, they can be quick to comment, “wow, I’d love to be off for three months in the summer.” I never know how to respond exactly, but usually in my head, I’m thinking, “define “off.” Because if you’re a faculty at a community college, when the spring semester ends, the work starts up and it doesn’t quit. Besides summer teaching assignments, it is common for COD faculty to complete a wide variety of work in June and July, ranging from attending conferences, workshops, and trainings, to working on committee projects for COD, to completing research, fieldwork, writing, and editing commitments. COD Faculty also work in summer advising, or on Pathways Working Groups, or plan in-service activities and site visits. We inventory program supplies and review annual data, and we attend regular committee meetings. We present papers, prepare exhibits, complete service for our professional organizations. Indeed, while the work may not be 9 to 5 or within the confines of an office or a classroom, and while the College is, technically, closed for business on Fridays, many of us seem to spend more time at work in the summer than we do during any other term.
Sometime around July 5th, the panic starts to set in, too. We realize we haven’t read too far into that stack of books and articles that accumulated during the previous year, or we need an extension for the revisions that journal editor requested, or we have a new course to prepare that starts in six weeks. Time flies quickly, and the August scramble begins. In the past few days, I communicated with a few dozen faculty about Fall Pathways work, and each one referenced a lengthy set of summer activities. While summer work may not be as visible or as structured, it is what makes the engine of education run smoothly year-round.
Next month, we’ll begin the fall semester, and as colleagues ask each other, “how was your summer? what did you do?” the consistent answer from faculty in every field, will be, “I worked.”