Saturday, December 11, 2010

"our" work during our "breaks"

Yes, another "vacation" from work looms and everyone inquires what will be done with all of that time off...this winter I am taking a week to visit with family over the holidays, but will be absorbing the rest of my time with much needed research writing. It seems there are never enough hours in the day during a regular semester -- particularly this past semester where much of my time was on a new course prep, a new text, and an extra "overload" course (making five courses total). I am also sitting on two university committees that are what I have dubbed "time eaters" since they just slowly munch and crunch all of my little bits of extra time away. We've all sat on such committees, I am sure, and know the importance of the work but also the desire for time for "our" work.

"Our" work varies from field to field, but it is that simple desire to research what we want, to explore what we find most interesting, and to publish and write in the area we consider "ours." This proves difficult when there are many hands reaching for our time and our energy. But the "break" will prove a great time to readjust my excel spreadsheet of tasks, goals, and time lines that will hopefully lead to a positive review come tenure-review time in Fall 2012.

As faculty at teaching-centered universities this struggle to find time for our work while teaching many (often very full) classes is an on-going issue of balance and strategies/prioritizing. It is a battle I speak of often, write about often, and which fills the pages of my journals where I fight with my teaching love and my research passions. I am insistent that I can blur the lines between the areas of the tenure-track faculty member's responsibilities and find a balance that will allow the separate segments of my work to be braided into a strong holistic vision, but I have yet to find a way to make this happen. Perhaps it takes time and continued energy in all three areas before I begin to see the parts as collaborative and fully functional. Until then, I must simply continue focusing on each part in its turn and hope that the quasi-equal emphasis will end in some semblance of balance.

With that thought, I enter the winter break with the goal of making up lost ground in the research realm and pushing projects forward that have lacked the necessary focus the past few months.

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