It is that time of year once again. Towards the end of every June, the highways start to get slightly less condensed, the crossing guards go home, and those buildings that house hundreds of children throughout the fall, winter, and spring are empty and quiet. Summer break isn’t the chief reason why anyone would decide to do this job. But it is a pretty decent incentive. And now that we are here, there are a few vital things that every teacher must do during their summer break. Want to make it through the rigor of another ten months teaching children? Well, here are 5 things every teacher should do during summer break, in no particular order:
This one is a no-brainer. After ten months and most likely multiple colds, that first week of summer break is a great time to catch up on some missed rest. The first thing I do once summer break begins is shut off my morning alarm. And by sleep I don’t only mean sleep in. It takes a while to break that habit of waking up early, so if you’re still waking up at around 6:30 a.m., try taking a nap or two throughout the day.
Purge Your Classroom
When I first started teaching, I was given a classroom that was chock-full of resources, binders and a ton of other things. And while it was great that this teacher decided to leave me many things to help me through my first year, I realized by the end of the year that I hardly used any of it. And even with my own things, there is so much that I either never use or just print off when the time comes. Technology has changed things for teachers but it still seems as though we are trailing behind. Gone are the days of the stacks and stacks of photocopies. One USB saves a lot of space. Tidy up your classroom by getting rid of anything that can be uploaded and re-printed.
This is similar to the piece I wrote on how to avoid teacher burn-out. For one or two weeks, whether it is at the beginning, middle, or end of your summer break, it is imperative to take some time to do and think about things that are completely unrelated to school. Vacation time, exercise, or learning a new hobby are great ways to keep the mind off of contemplating what little thing you could do today to be more prepared for next year.
Reflect on the Year
Reflection is key in helping you become a more polished teacher. Making a conscious effort to think about the things that worked well in class juxtaposed with the things that didn’t well help you narrate how to do better next year. Also, focus on things that caused stress and things that were most memorable. These insights can provide great clarity leading into a new year.
One New Thing for Next Year
I know it is summer break and many teachers want to spend the time trying not to think about that first day or first week back. But most teachers inevitably contribute some aspect of their summer break to their professional development. Whether it is reading a book related to education, gathering a new resource, or coming up with an engaging lesson, activity, or assignment, you should take the time to create one new thing to add to your teacher’s tool belt over the summer. Last summer, I learned a new classroom management strategy (simply a phrase) from reading a blog that I thought I’d try with my class. By the last day in June, I was still using it to get my students’ attention.
Summer is the time for teachers to get the “Three R’s” in: rest, relax, and recover. But who are we kidding? All teachers feel the itch to do just a little something to prepare for next year. Find the balance between being productive and enjoying your well deserved vacation. The right balance will lead to a fulfilling summer break that will have you equipped to head back in once the break ends.
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