Academic new year

My academic new year’s day is going to be this coming Monday, 18th September. It’s a particularly exciting one this year, as it’ll also be my first day under contract (though not actually on site) in my new job at the Open University. This is not only my first academic position (yay!) but my first salaried job ever (double yay!) – and also the first year of my life since I was four when I won’t be some kind of student. That’s weird. I guess that after 22 years of education, I’m a real person now.

I’ve seen several colleagues on Twitter making resolutions for the new academic year. I love a resolution – people are often glib about making resolutions at (calendar) new year, saying that it’s an arbitrary time to make changes, but I think an arbitrary time is better than no time at all. Of course, the beginning of a new teaching session, and a new job, isn’t arbitrary at all. So, some resolutions or goals for the coming academic year:

  • Learn lots about distance teaching and learning technologies – This is a bit un-quantifiable, and also pretty compulsory in my new role, but I’m excited about it nonetheless. It’s an area of experience I can really expand on, and that I’m passionate about, for the purposes of making education more accessible. (What does it say about me that in my first year when I’m not a student, the first goal I have is to learn new things?)
  • Apply for Fellowship of the HEA – I found my Associate Fellowship application a really rewarding experience, and I’m keen to progress further and reflect on my own teaching practice. It’s also good for the CV, of course.
  • Sign a contract for the thesis book – This is a big one. It’s reliant on finding the right publisher, amongst other factors. I’m antsy about it, because I wanted to have it done by Christmas, but I think that was a bit too optimistic. The stretch goal for this is to actually finish the book – there’s not an enormous amount of work to do, as far as I can see.
  • Write one/two great conference papers, and turn at least one into an article – Whether it’s one or two depends on whether I get accepted to the second conference I’ve submitted to. I have one conference confirmed for the year, and I’m excited about the paper – it’s the kind of textual-analysis-as-social-history approach that I really love and employ heavily in my thesis. It’s also something quite different from what I’ve been working on recently, though still within forensic oratory. If it comes out as well as I’m hoping it will, I think it would make a neat article. The other submission is another foray into my new ongoing project on space and place in oratory, and I really hope it gets accepted so that I have an excuse to write it.
  • Buy academic books – This may seem like a weird one, but my personal library is tiny – like two shelves on a narrow IKEA Billy bookcase tiny. This is because I’ve never had any money for books. Now I’m actually going to be being paid to be a classicist, I’m going to invest a little of that money back into my own research resources.
  • And finally, a non-career-related but still important one: stay active – In two weeks, I’m running 10km for the Race for Life. After that, and particularly through term time, I’m determined to keep exercising. This is something I’ve been terrible about for my whole life, and better about this year – but I need to keep it up, if only because I don’t want my back to go back to being in pain all the time, when it’s just starting to get better. I blame desks (no, I blame myself for being sedentary).

With these goals in mind, I’m keen to dive into the new year and make it an amazing one. I’ve never been so excited for the start of term. Happy academic new year everyone!

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