Whether you've been feeling burnt out at work or want to dedicate more time to one of your passions, taking a sabbatical could be a good option. Most professors and instructors go on a sabbatical at least once throughout their teaching career. Read on to learn if taking a sabbatical is right for you and what steps you should take to prepare.
What Is a Sabbatical?
A sabbatical is an extended time away from work. This period typically lasts anywhere from two months to one year. Employees can take extended leave for many reasons, including conducting research, starting a special project, or developing their teaching skills.
Faculty members at higher education institutions may take sabbaticals lasting a semester or year. This leave provides them with time to engage in in-depth research or publish their work.
Many prestigious institutions offer full-year sabbaticals at the instructor's typical salary. Some colleges or universities with fewer resources may opt to fund three-month sabbatical projects, grant leave for one-month sabbatical projects, or pay for the entire year at half of the instructor's typical salary.
Reasons Faculty Should Take a Sabbatical
Taking time away from work can help you improve your performance and qualifications. Working long hours can easily lead to burnout — even if you work in a field you're passionate about. Exploring other interests can help you return with renewed vigor and even help prepare you for professional advancements. Furthermore, research shows sabbaticals enable team members to feel more confident in their abilities and leadership qualities.
A sabbatical must relate to your work and career or help you advance a skill or gain knowledge. However, it is also your time to pursue topics and information you want to know more about or work with directly. A sabbatical is also the perfect time to pursue projects and learn more about yourself. Some ideas to consider include:
- Complete a professional project: Long working hours and strict schedules can prevent many faculty members from pursuing personal projects in their careers. One-month sabbatical projects could consist of escaping to a writing retreat for a short story or crafting an essay you wish to submit for peer review.
- Collaborate across cultures: Through your time in academia, you've likely come across others in your field at other institutions or places across the world. Your sabbatical could be an excellent time to meet with leaders in the academic sphere to discuss new ideas and learn about current trends in higher education.
- Begin new research: Perhaps you've noticed a lack of discussion or questions surrounding a topic. Sabbatical provides you time to search for the answers you want to find. You can take surveys, visit countries where conversations are centered, or seek alternative methods of closing a knowledge gap.
- Impact communities: There are many ways to align your personal and professional goals while impacting your community or another. For example, faculty members in science-related fields can undergo preservation projects to protect animals or plant life. Educators who specialize in economics could help restore homes and businesses after a natural disaster and observe the economic impact.
How Does Sabbatical Benefit Higher Education?
Sabbatical is an excellent opportunity for faculty members to gain valuable insight into and make a worthwhile contribution to their fields. Although instructors are taking time away from their schools, colleges and universities can benefit immensely from the projects and activities faculty members complete during this time.
Higher education institutions recognize that a knowledgeable and experienced faculty contributes to student success and institutional goals. When you develop in your professional field, you can relay that information to students in your class or discuss precise actions your institution can take to improve and reach new initiatives.
Professional development contributes to student success, and your sabbatical enables you to seek this growth in a meaningful way. This effort can help retain students and ensure your institution sees the return on its investment in you and its students.
Additionally, your profile becomes more robust for potential prospects. As up-and-coming students evaluate which institutions will provide them with the best academic experience, they can review your qualifications. When they see that you and other instructors are making continuous efforts in your fields, they may feel more inclined to pursue your institution for quality education.
How to Prepare for Sabbatical
If you plan to take a sabbatical, inform your employer beforehand. Along with giving them time to plan for your absence, you can prepare for all that's involved in taking an extended leave from work.
Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Determine when would be the best time to take your sabbatical would be. Take care to note the right timing and ensure you can complete all your current work so you can go on sabbatical with a clear head. Ensure you receive grant funds, board approval, and other vital documents and information in time.
- Come up with an itinerary or list of ideas and goals you want to achieve during your sabbatical.
- Research and book plane tickets, lodging and activities to structure your days and months around one-month, three-month or longer sabbatical projects.
- If you're traveling, create a budget to easily manage everything from your mortgage to living expenses like gas and food while you're away.
- Although you will likely receive some kind of compensation from your institution, you should research the area you plan to stay in to ensure you can perform your activities and complete the goals you seek to accomplish without restrictions.
- Train those who will take your place if necessary while you are on your sabbatical so your absence doesn't strain your institution.
- Set realistic expectations about your plans and be flexible. No matter how many plans you make or the time you set aside, sometimes things move slower than expected. As you prepare to leave, take some time to create a few backup plans in case you need to rework some ideas.
Ease Back Into Work With Watermark
Whether you take a one-month or one-year sabbatical, Watermark will ensure you have the software you need to ease back into work projects once your time off ends. Our innovative technology assists with everything from data collection to analysis. With it, you'll gain the tools you need to learn from data and apply insights to drive meaningful improvements.
Watermark Faculty Success helps higher education institutions keep current data and seamlessly share customizable reports. When you return from your sabbatical, you won't need to catch up on redundant tasks, and you'll be able to align actions with your workflow.
You can also easily update your faculty profile and highlight your sabbatical journey. Keep your accomplishments in one place and showcase your expertise to your team and students. Additionally, this information can aid other processes, such as tenure selection during annual reviews.
Request a demo of our software today to learn more!
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