Summer 2018 Retrospective

Usually at this time of year, as the new semester gets underway and I reflect on my summer, I would do a solid review of my accomplishments and a retrospective on my successes and shortcomings with respect to my summer goals. As usual, I had a ton of (unrealistic) writing goals in addition to work on projects under contract and assessment activities for the two program I run. It should have been a productive summer.

On the surface, things were trending upward – my Professional Writing & Rhetoric program had finally become its own major rather than a track in another major, we had a much better handle on the second pilot semester of the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation than we did on the first run, Agile Faculty seemed to be selling well. I had ideas for several journal articles I could write across a variety of interests. I was participating in course design groups for design thinking and Honors. I attended a faculty writing retreat with my co-editors to get a handle on our edited collection which is under contract with a prestigious university press. I was planning a disciplinary conference with colleague-friends that we were really excited about. There were lots of things I wanted to do under the Agile Faculty umbrella from developing downloadable resources to starting a podcast. I had a lot to look forward to in May.

This summer, I finally hit my wall.

Very little of it happened. But this isn’t a post about not working enough, or feeling shame and guilt for not working enough (yes, I’ve been reading Brene Brown). This post is a celebration of not being especially productive. Of finally realizing that I don’t have to push myself over a cliff to be productive and professionally content. Of actually being OK with what I’ve accomplished and my right to take a break and work on myself. Of realizing I don’t really have anything to prove to anyone anymore. Of doing absolutely nothing at the beach for a week with my extended family.

This became a summer of self-care.

This became a summer of self-care, which was hard for the first few months, because I don’t know how not to work for an extended period of time. But I learned. I’m still working on it. I still need to figure out how to continue some of the self-care practices I implemented this summer into the rhythm of the semester. I write in Agile Faculty that we need to each be attentive to our own professional goals and the activities, work and home, that keep us vital faculty. This summer, I took my own advice and am a better instructor, colleague, and wife because of it. And now one of my goals is to get a (hurricane-proof) beach house, something different I can work towards as well as my professional goals.

How do you practice self-care?


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I teach Professional Writing and Rhetoric in the Department of English at Elon University. Specifically, I teach courses in professional communication and rhetorical theory, publishing, project management, and workplace research methods. My research interests include collaboration strategies in the classroom and workplace, written artifacts that mediate collaboration, and Agile project management strategies. @RPR_Elon on Twitter

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