I taught my last class of the 2007-8 academic year on Thursday, and although there are still exams and piles of marking to get through, and meetings (oh, the meetings!), my schedule will soon be much freer. Contrary to what many people seem to think, we academics are far from free once teaching is done: not only is there all the administrative work to catch up on and the committee work we can't avoid, there's also preparation for next term. At our institution, we're expected to have our fall book orders in by June, and many of us also try to get the major paper handouts for start of term organized now as well. In English, most of my colleagues change and/or add texts regularly, even if (especially if?) we've taught a course many times, so there's always new reading to do over the next few months. I have an upper-level course next spring with at least five novels I've never taught before, so that requires some time, obviously. And beyond all that, most of us use much of the summer to get to our own research, scrabbling to get a conference paper ready for a presentation at the end of May or mid-June, or trying to get research finally written up to a point where it can be submitted to a journal, or simply trying to begin a research project that's been buzzing in our heads between classes over the year. Teaching 4 and 4 (4 classes each term is standard at my place, altho' we get a release if we're doing an upper-level, so 3 and 4 is also possible) means most research and writing has to be saved for end of term, so our vacations aren't as long as our friends enviously imagine.
All of which is to say that not only do I have a slightly freer schedule now, but I'll need a less cluttered space to try to get some work done at home. This mess is at least partly a result of getting home each night too tired to do better than to dump and stack. As I tick off term-related work over the next few weeks, I hope to be clearing my office as well, so that by the time my schedule's my own, I'll have some clarity around my summer priorities, and some clear space for achieving them.
I'm going to list some of those priorities here in the next post or so. Meanwhile, though, this is what greeted me this morning, and is making it rather unlikely that office-cleaning will be top priority today. After weeks of cold (the weather guy on CBC's 6:30 news last night said that the last weeks of March here were among the coldest on record), we've been promised one day of warm (possibly up to 20 degrees) weather, but warned that it will be very much a flash in the pan. So I'll be outside, not in!
Right now, the sun's climbing higher in the sky and burning away the low marine cloud. Looks as if it's going to be a spectacular spring day. Hope the sun shines on you as well.