Counting Down and Gearing Up

Fanabe beach sunset
Photo by ahisgett.

Though its only mid-August, I can’t help but sense the summer slowly but surely winding down.  In a little less than two weeks I’ll be doing what I do for a living…educating the speech-language pathologists of tomorrow at Clarion University.  I’ve had a good run this summer…plenty of baseball, music, iPod Apps, traveling, and socializing.  But the countdown has begun and it’s time to gear up for the 2010-2011 academic year.

In pitching this blog for inclusion in ASHAsphere I offered to provide an “inside” look into the life of a university professor for both current students, previous students, and future students.  To take the reader behind the curtain, if you will, and offer insight into the commitment those in my facet of the profession have made to teaching, scholarly activity, and community service.  As the new academic year approaches, it seems that now is as good a time as any to begin pulling the curtain back.

I’ve encountered people who think my job simply involves showing up for class at the start of fall and telling stories to a captive audience until school’s out in the spring.  If only that were true…ha!!  The senior citizen who walks on the treadmill next to me certainly gives me grief about this all the time.  While I do enjoy telling stories and sharing jokes with my students, what my buddy in moving vigorously but getting nowhere misses is that performing successfully in the classroom takes a year-round commitment.  True, the summer is a time for relaxing…but it’s also a time for recharging and recommitting.

A way I recharge and recommit is by attacking the professional literature with a vengeance.  I belong to five Special Interest Divisions so there is always something on my plate.  This summer I had the pleasure of reading a number of excellent articles (and simultaneously earning CEUs), including:  “A Historical Perspective of Voice Management: 1940-1970” by Daniel R. Boone (SID 3); “Designing Our Courses for Greater Student Engagement and Better Student Learning” by L. Dee Fink (SID 10); and “Current Issues: Incorporating Counseling Into Graduate Education” by Diane C. Millar, Kori L. Harrow, and Ashley A. Morgan (SID 11).  Not only did these articles serve to increase my knowledge-base about subjects I teach, especially in the areas of voice disorders and counseling, but I’ve also become better informed regarding how to teach them…instructional best practices if you will.

So though I’m fortunate enough that my summer is mainly mine to do as I please, it’s not a complete blow-off.  While I’ve spent countless hours punishing myself in the gym to tunes blasting from my iPod (it would be so much better if I practiced what I preached), I’ve also been preparing to become a better teacher in the fall….something I owe to myself, my students, and the profession.  Now it’s time to get back to whipping my syllabi into shape and posting student information online…August 31st will be here before I know it.

How did you recharge this summer?

Kenneth Staub, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences & Disorders at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He will be a regular contributor to ASHAsphere and welcomes questions or suggestions for posts.