The title of this post is a common phrase I hear among doctoral students. I’ve even said it numerous times myself, a lot in the past week. There’s always this sense that the summer is free–free to work on whatever you’ve been meaning to get done during the year, full of unlimited time to write. Although leaving NHA has certainly freed up some time for me, I have found that I haven’t always had unlimited time for my dissertation this summer. And saying “I’ll get it done this summer” becomes more ridiculous as July winds to a close and the Aug 21 start date for the new school year gets closer and closer. So what have I been doing this summer besides writing?

I have been teaching.  I am teaching an online class– TE 842. It’s a Masters class called Elementary Reading and Assessment. Masters classes require more from the students regarding reading and writing, so that means more grading for me. Online teaching has its pros and cons and it certainly requires a lot of organization on my part. I try to read/grade at least 5 papers/submissions every day, if not more.

I have been coding data. For the first time in my grad school career, I am on a large research project called FAME (Formative Assessment for Michigan Educators–although I always want to sing “Fame! I want to live forever!!” when I work on it). I have been watching videos of teachers in their professional development meetings and meticulously writing down what they talk about, what questions they ask, and how in-depth their discussion is. I have been assigned to write “cases” of two schools and the team is trying to make some conclusions about the teacher meetings for an AERA presentation. I have really enjoyed working on a research project like this and I regret not being able to do this sooner in my time at MSU.

I have been planning. My last commitment to NHA is to teach a 2-day workshop next week on social studies instruction. This isn’t like writing a conference paper, or planning for a class. It’s 9 hours of instructional time that I am in charge of! I am looking forward to teaching about social studies again, and I think I have some fun activities planned for these NHA teachers. It’ll be nice to see some NHA people for the first time since I left.

All of these things have caused me to put my dissertation on hold these last couple of weeks. I have to get back in the game soon though because finishing my dissertation proposal revisions is the one thing I d need to get done this summer.

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