9 Things Teachers Should Do this Summer
A teacher's summer break borders on sacred, and we've more than earned it. If you are a teacher or know a teacher, you know that summer break for educators isn't full of trips, sleeping in, and reading by the pool. Don't get me wrong, that is on the menu for many teachers, but we also do so much more.
Many teachers spend their summers taking care of appointments, neglected housework, and getting in the quality family time we missed during the school year. In addition to settling into a summer routine and tackling that to-do list, consider some of the following suggestions to help you feel productive yet relaxed and achieve a healthy school/home life balance, even in the summer months.
#1 Read what the kids are reading.
This is my favorite thing to do in the summer. It takes the pressure off of feeling obligated to read something scholarly, "professional," or from your regular teaching canon. Take this summer to read something the kids are reading. Choose something high-interest and trendy that will allow you to have conversations with students. Not all of these books will be of the caliber of Hemingway or Dickens, which is partly the point. The point is to allow yourself to have some time reading a few "beach reads" and relaxing -- and not studying or working.
Some popular and captivating books include The Hunger Games series, the Divergent series, We Were Liars, Prisoner B-3087, Fever 1793, Long Way Down, Scythe, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Shadow and Bone, and pretty much anything by John Green. Some other fun choices include To All The Boys I've Loved Before, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and The Lonely Hearts Club series. For more, check out recommendations on Goodreads.
Before your class breaks for summer, ask your students which books they would recommend. I make it a habit of reading whatever my students like; they are the most passionate readers!
#2 Catch up on sleep.
Set a new sleep routine that gives you the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and ready to enjoy your day. You deserve it! Seriously, after all those late nights grading essays and early mornings prepping lectures. Take a few (or 30) vacation days to catch up!
#3 Learn something new.
There are a ton of online courses being offered right now, many of them completely free! Check out EdCamps or EdTech for Summer Workshops being offered right now. Learn something new and maybe even get some PD credit for it!
#4 Do something just for fun.
We make so many sacrifices for our jobs and our students. Take a day (or a month) to revive your passion for crafts or swimming or even binge a show on Netflix! Time for pure fun will refresh you come August.
#5 Read an author biography.
We help students fall in love with literature every year. Knowing the people behind the books and poems helps take it to that next level (and I certainly don't have time during the school year to get in that much extra reading!) For something light-hearted and appealing, check out Secret Lives of Great Authors or something more traditional like the Robert Frost Biography of an American Poet.
#6 Take a trip.
Seriously, get out of your house. Get out of your town or city. Even if it's just for a weekend. Now that the country has reopened, it is time to (safely) get out and breathe a little. There is something magical about physically getting away that refreshes the soul and allows you some space to clear your head, reset your mindset, and be present. If you're on a budget, find one of the cheapest (and cleanest) Airbnbs you can find and just go.
#7 Organize your inspiration.
Remember all of those sticky notes you left yourself? All those pins you added on Pinterest? Go back and organize them. Toss the ones that you know in your heart you'll never do. Organize the ones you want to try. If you're really feeling ambitious, maybe even take some time to tackle your teaching files, too! Throw out those old, outdated activities you're never going to do, and replace them with fresh, new ideas. Or start a file in which you gather extra credit and "early finisher" ideas and work.
#8 Reflect on the previous school year.
Take an evening or two to reflect on what you thought went well and what you are ready to focus on improving for the next school year. You can do this right away because it's fresh in your brain, or you can wait until the new school is set to begin to help set the tone and focus for the year.
#9 Set professional goals. Set your goals now while you are rested and idealistic. Pick only one or two things to focus on during the year, so you can keep your eye on them all year long and not be overwhelmed with a long list.
What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? What summer goals do you set? We'd love to hear from you!
All of these merit our attention. Even though I’m retired from full-time teaching, I still tutor writing about 20 hours a week, so I’m still in the game. Over the years I’ve been guilty of being on duty 24/7 during the school year. I agree completely with Kristin—use your summer for R&R, but find a few moments to assess where you are and plan for growth.