Prepping for the Semester

posted Jan 6, 2013, 11:43 AM by jj pionke
I love being in school, whether that is as a teacher or as a student, I love it.  I love education.  I love the cyclical changes that occur in the school year.  So, what do I do when I am getting for the new semester to start?  There is certainly the usual things like lesson planning, syllabi, and so forth.  As a student, I also gather up my textbooks, notebooks, highlighters, paper, ink, etc.  I clean out my bags and refill all the things I usually carry with me like antacid, painkillers, pencil lead, etc.  I also do my data management - order the files, combine materials, clear of the USBs and the cloud storage.

Semester prep is more than all of that physical stuff though.  It's also about mentally preparing for the semester.  A friend recently remarked that she really admired that during the semester, I became very stoic.  I don't watch tv or read much for pleasure.  I might occasionally watch a movie, but it's usually related to what I am teaching or learning.  During break times, I will certainly read and watch whatever I want, but during the semester, I am dedicated to what I am learning or teaching.  This takes a certain level of mental discipline.  However, I know that for myself at least that when I am focused on the learning or teaching at hand, I learn better than if I am distracted by all the other things.  No one can be completely stoic all of the time.  As human beings, we need balance and that includes pleasure.  So, the cyclical nature of education works well for me because I get rewarded with downtime in between the times of intense mental activity.

What does prepping for this look like?  It means titrating off the fun stuff and slowly ramping up the prep work.  It means doing the physical prep things, but also starting to do more mental work as well including reading materials that are supplemental to the semester or were recommended by friends/colleagues as materials that are interesting in how the relate to what is being studied or taught.  It's as much about physical preparation as it is about mental prep work.  The ultimate result is focus and admittedly excitement about the coming term!  YAY!
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