|HaticeEROL via Pixabay|
Today is the first day of my fully online summer class! I've been driving toward this, doing the online set-up alongside my spring semester classes for a couple of months now. I hit pause last week so I could finish end-of-spring-semester tasks in time to enjoy my daughter's graduation celebration last weekend.
Still, in the recesses of my brain, a little engine was chugging along, whispering an urgent reminder: summer class starts Monday...summer class starts Monday...summer class starts Monday...until yesterday, when I woke up in a hotel room in Connecticut with an updated version.
Summer class starts tomorrow!
This was followed immediately by another thought: what does that even mean?
For a typical, in-person summer class, it would mean an earlier start to the day, as my summer classes start earlier and run longer than my regular semester classes. It would mean choosing an outfit and making sure all of my materials were ready -- that I was ready -- to start at a specific time in a specific room with a specific group of students in front of me.
None of these holds true for a fully online class. Yes, I have a specific group of students but, no, they won't be in front of me. At least not all at the same time.
My first feeling was a sense of relief. Not having to be somewhere specific at a specific time felt freeing! And, having already made the first module of our class visible to my students on our course platform took care of getting my materials ready.
Now all I need is a schedule, and it's all mine to make.
Wow. What a concept.
By the end of this week, I hope to have done just that. Meanwhile, here I sit, writing a blog post in the middle of the day.
I don't know yet what my days will look like, or whether they'll all be the same. I might take a day off midweek -- or just work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, with enough e-mail checks on the off-days to keep my students on track.
Initially, I was nervous about starting this class so soon after spring semester. Would I be ready? Would I be too exhausted to give my online students the same care and concern I afford my classes during the regular semester?
As it turns out, the timing's a good thing. I haven't yet abandoned my work mindset for the freedoms of summer, which means that getting up and getting started feels natural. And, I'm close enough to the grind that is the end of the semester to know exactly which boundaries I want to set early on.
One thing I definitely plan to do is close up shop before dinner. Emails that come in later than late afternoon will have to wait until the next day. And I will definitely be reclaiming my long-lost Sundays, as well as the writing time that got flattened by the freight train that was hybrid teaching.
I feel fortunate to have an opportunity to pause and take stock of my time and my schedule. To eat when I'm hungry, go to the bathroom when I need to and maybe even squeeze in a nap if I'm so inclined. For so much of my career, all of these things were defined by an external schedule -- something that's true for most people who work outside of their homes. And, even though my retirement from public education wasn't a traditional retirement, it allowed me to press pause, as one of my principals used to say. To see what my body clock had to say about schedules and to work with it, instead of against it.
I've been in my second career long enough that I've established a routine. My classes start at the same time every day. The semester follows a predictable trajectory -- although powering through breaks in the last year and a half without passing go, collecting $200 or even pausing to take a breath has twisted that trajectory -- and so each new semester (usually) requires only tweaks in timing.
But this summer online schedule? A whole new ballgame.
One I think I might enjoy playing.