The end of my summer comes next week when I return to teaching at DePaul on September 8th. When I sat down to write about this summer I did a quick search to see what I had previously written about summer breaks, and I’m sure it will surprise no one to hear that it’s one of the most frequent subjects on this blog. I’ve discussed everything from ideas to improve the relaxation I feel to the frustration and disappointment I feel once the summer comes to a close. I don’t think I’m alone among academics in having a fraught relationship with summer breaks. If you’re lucky enough to have a break from teaching, you typically feel a lot of pressure to do other activities that are neglected in the crush of the academic year. But at the same time refreshing yourself so that you can go at full speed while teaching is important. It usually results in a muddle where you feel you haven’t done any of it right.
All of this makes me happy to report that I have finally come to the end of a balanced summer. I kept the habit I started last year of taking long weekends, with most weeks compressed to three days of work. Because of the pandemic I didn’t travel at all, so that I had lots of time to binge watch, cook, play with my cats, and do other relaxing things at home. Before the delta variant caused a Covid-19 resurgence I got to socialize with vaccinated friends and eat several times at restaurants, a first since March 2020. At the same time, I had several weekly research meetings, and I made good progress on a couple of projects. I also kept up with my SIGCSE service, including putting together a committee for the 2022 election, and I handled the advising and admissions activities that are typically more intense during the summer. I’m left feeling both productive and relaxed, something I don’t think I’ve achieved since I started working at DePaul in 1996.
Next week I return to the classroom for the first time since November 2019, and I’m both excited and nervous. I can’t wait to see the students in person again, but the delta variant will no doubt make things complex even with all the precautions DePaul has in place, which fortunately include both mandatory vaccination and masking. I have doubts that I’ll make it to the end of the term in person, but thanks to this summer I have the energy to try. And that is never more precious than at this point in time.