I woke up this morning to find a big ugly number looming over my life: the number 1. August 1, to be specific--tomorrow. We may have a bunch more summer left before the fall semester starts, but August is when things get serious.
In August all the ideas I'm been ruminating over all summer have to be gathered together and written down in a form that will make sense to students. I'll have to finish writing syllabi, create my online gradebooks, construct new assignments where needed and figure out how the major changes in the first essay assignment for the freshman writing class will impact the rest of the assignments. And what about changing the point value for the low-stakes writing assignments in the Honors Literature class? Too many points and they overshadow the major assignments; too few points and the students aren't motivated to improve their performance.
Meeting schedules crank up in August. No more dropping in once a week to water my plants; over the next couple of weeks I need to meet with a bunch of people and schedule a mess of events, including a book discussion and regular meetings for the faculty publishing group. (My partner in crime is on sabbatical all year, so it's all on me.) Plus I need to meet with the director of the Honors program to figure out how All Scholars' Day works, since I'll be in charge of running that next spring.
August is when I come to terms with the mess I've been making of my office all summer: sorting through books and putting them away, setting up the shelves that hold this semester's course materials, dealing with a summer's worth of dust and a carpet that hasn't seen a vacuum since everyone went away in April. I figured out that if I replace my four-drawer filing cabinet with two two-drawer cabinets and move them to the other side of the office, I can make room for a recliner--but that's a pretty big if.
Finally, August is when everything unfinished, every tenuous and ephemeral and half-formed idea, every loose end has to be gathered up and woven into a complex web of documents, plans, and activities. Simply surveying the massive task wears me out, but I either buckle down and do it now or spend the rest of the year scrambling to get caught up.
Time to get to work! (Tomorrow.)