Ugh! Teachers are subjected to the words,”It must be nice,” each time summer vacation arrives. I could reply with the list of all the work teachers do during their summer “break,” but we teachers are well aware of the planning, classes, and meetings that fill our two months away from students. Non-teachers just think we sound whiny and defensive.
Believe me, I’ve done my share of defensive whining, but I must admit I love that we have this time to recharge, reflect, and reboot. The beauty of this job is that we have multiple opportunities for closure and fresh starts. We get fresh starts each quarter and semester as well as at the end of each school year, and summer break is the mother of all closures and fresh starts.
I just cleaned out my work emails of parent contacts, training requirements, meetings, evaluation updates, and all the other job requirements that have clogged up my in box. No wonder our teacher brains are fried. Taking time to recharge is not a luxury, it’s essential. My brilliant coach, Reggie, has said it’s all about choices. I choose to spend the beginning of summer relaxing. I address the heavy reflection and rebooting later.
(So I don’t forget important points, I do take a few reflection notes at the end of the school year). For example, one of my coworkers taped her students when giving their practice speeches. This gave students an opportunity to evaluate themselves. I would like to try this approach next year. Verbal feedback is more effective than written feedback. I would also shorten the time spent on my narrative unit next year to allow more time for their learning organizing writing and research.
As the end of the school year approaches, this summer can’t come soon enough. I just completed my evaluation year – Whoa! – I’m glad this happens only once every three years – There were new curriculum, new procedures, and new teammates – you get the idea. I want to reflect on the year to gain clarity on what worked and what I could do better. Then I need to pack up my stressed out brain along with my classroom. I’ve set a date in July to revisit my planning. Until then I am going to nurture creativity. I’ve created a summer bucket list of things I want to try, such as: finding a new bike trail, bowling again for the first time since forever, planning a friends’ night out and trying an art class. Nurturing personal creativity helps me foster my classroom creativity.
My teacher husband and I always plan an escape on the last day of school. The moment we walk out of the school doors, we jump in our pre-packed car and head to Eagle River, a pine-scented haven. Before sunset we are on the pier with a favorite beverage in hand. For the next few days we hike, swim, read brain candy, and shed stress like a Husky sheds its fur each spring.
Money experts will tell you to pay yourself first, so why not pay your mind, body, and soul first. Take time to recharge. If you can’t get out of town, then play cards with friends, visit a farmers’ market, do something that makes you happy. These happy deposits (another Reggie bite of wisdom) that you pay yourself will make it easier for you to give your students your best.
When the next person aims the jealousy fueled words, “Must be nice,” resist the urge to punch them in the throat, and respond, “Yes, yes it is,” and hand them a brochure for a teacher certification program.
What do you have on your “Summer Bucket List”? What would it take for you to give yourself the time to truly enjoy yourself over the summer? What do you anticipate getting in the way of your “Summer Bucket List”? What steps can you take to make this happen for you?
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