How do I keep the research/conversations going during the semester?

This is a perennial question for me, and one I have never “solved” adequately. Some semesters I get more of my own research done than others, but I always find that I feel unsatisfied with my ability to remain connected to my larger academic discourse community during the semester.

I teach at a liberal arts college, which I love, but which means that my 3/3 teaching load is fully on my own shoulders. Each course is an individual prep, and I rotate courses on a two-year schedule. So I do a lot of prepping in order to stay up to date in the fields of my active courses. I find I need to catch up on each field, reinsert my brain into those concerns, and reread all the materials for each course–for each course each semester.

This rotation of courses means that, in any given semester, I am likely NOT teaching a course directly related to the article or project I’m working on for my own research. I just can’t move through projects that quickly. So my research trajectories don’t line up with my teaching very well.

Recently, though, as I’ve been doing more and more digital pedagogical experiments, they are enabling me to realign some aspects of my work with teaching. That’s exciting.

And I find that, if I can carve out time to interact with my Twitter account multiple times a day I can stay connected to my colleagues.

So–my resolution this semester is counterintuitive: spend more time on social media–especially Twitter–in order to stay “in the conversation” with my own research and with others who are doing related projects.

Have you ever made such a resolution? How do you keep your head in your research during heavy teaching times?

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