Any teacher can tell you summer is a much needed break from the chaos and excitement of the school year. Once this time of year hits, it’s so easy to sprint to the finish line and stay in summer mode up until you start seeing back to school sale ads. Enjoy your summer, but make it a productive one with these 4 must-dos.
Reflecting on your school year while it’s still fresh in your mind is the best and easiest way to improve your practice from year to year. Some teachers teach the same topics and use the same methods for an entire 30 year career, but others want to improve and be the best they can be for their students. Reflection, in absence of the daily pressures of lesson planning, students, and administration, produces real insights. Read more suggestions from a previous blog I wrote on how to reflect on your year here.
I don’t know of a single teacher who doesn’t look forward to summer. There’s some buzz going on social media that says something to the effect of: if you’re happy about impending summer, you’re doing your students a disservice. Well, I completely disagree. We are entitled to love our students and take a break from them. Just like mothers need peace and quiet from their own children, this comes from a place of love. We need to let our brains rest. We need to breathe, and use the restroom when nature calls (instead of when a bell dictates), and enjoy the sounds of silence.
Whatever personal enjoyment looks like for you–do it. If it means taking a beach vacation, reading mystery novels, and sipping on frozen drinks with umbrellas in them–invite me over. Just kidding…partially. What I’m getting at is this: no one can tell you how to relax and enjoy yourself. Do what works for you. Maybe you’ve had a stressful year, or maybe you’ve had the smoothest year in your entire career. Nevertheless, teaching is a tough job and you deserve to enjoy the downtime. You have my permission.
After you’ve reflected and enjoyed yourself a bit, it’s time to think about your future plans as an educator. I’m not suggesting you go ask your principal for the keys to your room and start setting up shop for next year, no! I’m thinking you should ease back into things by doing a little professional development of your own.
All school year your professional development track is decided for you (at least at most schools anyway). The school year is already too jam packed to really focus on self-improvement on any meaningful scale. This is your time to drive professional progress all on your own accord. Think big: what have you always wanted to try in the classroom but didn’t have the time or energy to implement? What’s a book there’s been buzz about that you wanted to read but didn’t have the time to during the school year? Now’s the time! Read, research, or just browse Twitter for some teacher inspo. You don’t have to implement it or re-write your lesson plans. Let it soak in; take time to decide, clear-headedly, how you’d like to use or lose the information next year.
By this point, you’re heading into the final stretch of summer. This part sneaks up on educators quickly, so don’t let it pass you by. Most importantly, you don’t want to be rushed in summer planning, like you are the rest of the school year. Begin slowly, by thinking about the year ahead. And then before summer vacation comes to a close, map out your school year or plan a new lesson or unit, and do so leisurely. You’ll feel better prepared for the upcoming year if you’ve done something in advance. You’ll have one less thing on your plate during in-service. Hey, maybe you’ll free up some time so you can chat with colleagues or take the new teacher to lunch. It’ll be worth it. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy planning in your pajamas with a cup of hot, homebrewed coffee?! That’s never fun during the school year, but there’s something a little bit exciting about doing it come summer’s end.
Working in these 4 must-dos this summer will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for next year—when the time comes! But until then, enjoy this break. You’ve earned it. There’s a reason why teachers work 10 months out of the year; they manage to achieve the nearly impossible: squeeze a year’s worth of instruction into a very short window of time of 180 days.