Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I did on my Summer Vacation

I assume that most teachers have the same problem.  People think that you are a lazy slob in the summer.  No, no, I am working.  I'm just not being paid for it.  Granted, I love my summer flexibility, and not everything that I am doing this summer is even able to be compensated.  So, to expand on my standard response when people ask what I am doing this summer ("oh, tutoring and writing"), here is what my summer is looking like:

1) Tutoring.  I have been tutoring at the local Baptist association as a volunteer for about three years now.  I love it.  I have worked with adult ESL students from Vietnam, Puerto Rico, and the Sudan.  I have also tutored kids ranging from pre-K to 8th grade.  When you add up all my teaching experiences, I have worked with all age groups, ages 3-80.  Love it.

2) Working with the youth group.  Oh my goodness.  Wednesday night youth classes, which Jordan and I assisted with, have ended for the summer, but the twice-a-month Sunday night classes, which we teach, are still going, and I am doing a girls Bible study at my apartment once a week this summer.  Additionally, Jordan and I are planning a week-long mission trip for July to Red Springs, NC.  There's also a lock-in in the works.  It's a good thing we like these kids.  To add to the craziness, we are looking for a youth pastor.  Jordan is on the search committee.  I am on a committee that is developing a personnel policy, which we realized we needed if we are going to hire someone. 

3) Writing.  Right now, I am trying to revise one of my diss chapters into an article for an upcoming special issue of a journal on Thackeray.  I feel pretty good about it.  But I need someone to read it.  My diss chair is jetting around doing research in India and China, and I feel bad asking other people, "Please, read about 26 pages of close-reading of a really long Victorian novel.  It'll be fun!"  I have thought about trading a meal for insightful feedback--you know, using some of my more valuable skills.  Also, on the writing front--a secret project.  I'm pretty excited about it.  But I need to get the article out of the way first.

4)  Working out like a fiend.  Right now the running schedule is four days a week: Once a week it's intervals (aghhh!) where you alternate running really fast with slower recovery runs.  Painful, but you see almost instant gains.  Twice a week I meet a friend who is new to running for a leisurely 2.6 miles, about half of which we walk--we plan to run the whole way by the end of summer.  Once a week, I do a solo long run, between 3 and 4 miles.  My goal is to run a 5K in September in under 30 minutes.  My last 5K time (2 years ago) was 32:10, so I think this is reasonable.  Twice a week, I do strength training.  Last summer, I joined a gym, but this summer I am trying things on my own.  Right now, I'm not using weights, but trying body-weight exercises like push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, etc.  Old school.

5) Eating and cooking.  Oh, summer food.  Squash, corn, strawberries.  My old friends.  And because of the working out like a fiend, I am also eating like a fiend.  I have found that my migraines are often hunger-related, and I often let hunger go on too long, because I feel to busy or just too un-motivated to stop and eat.  So, now I am trying to eat around 6 small meals a day before I get hungry to the point of fainting, which was my typical signal to eat.  I have this serious struggle between wanting to eat real, local, Michael Pollen-would-approve food and convenience.  Tyson chicken nuggets--so easy, so quick, but so mysterious--is it real chicken?  This needs further investigation.

6)  Being all professional.  Since the job search starts for real this fall, I am working on all that stuff--job letters, CV, writing sample, diss abstract, etc, etc, etc.  I am scared.  Also, working on becoming a really awesome teacher.  It looks like I will be teaching courses I am familiar with this fall, so I plan to polish those syllabi and assignments till they shine.  I'm still optimistic that if I work hard enough, I will find a way to teach all of my students to write intelligently and read insightfully.  Fingers crossed for Fall 2011.

7) Getting around.  Beach trip with my family, beach trip with Jordan's family, the aforementioned missions trip.  Also, a camping trip already in the works (yay!), and hopefully some time spent with far-flung friends.  Jordan and I used our season passes this weekend at the Biltmore House, and plan to go back again soon to rent bikes to ride on the property.  I also want to (finally) see note-worthy places nearby--Duke's chapel and gardens, Guilford courthouse, etc.  I have a Fodor's guide to the Carolinas and Georgia, so I plan to make like a tourist in my own backyard this summer.

So clearly, I'm not doing a 9-5 this summer, but I'm not watching soaps and eating bon-bons either.  Teaching has its ups and downs.  Summer is definitely one of the ups!

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