How to Handle Summer Break

The last day of school is a faint memory now, even though it happened about a week ago. My somewhat agitated reality of having two months off always starts to sink in during that first week of July. No more alarm clocks, morning teas, rush hour traffic, or mental preparation. All of these systematic routines are put on pause until the fall. At the beginning of summer break, I wake up when my body naturally decides to, eat breakfast, watch a little TV, read a little, maybe workout, watch a little more TV, and essentially relax – or at least try to.

That first week off, alike many other weeks that one will experience this summer, is a week of perplexities. Teachers are used to routine. We get comfortable knowing what we have to do and what will come next. These two months off are a practice of destroying routine and being truly flexible to whatever, especially for those without children. Although this sounds like an exhilarating experience, for me it causes angst. I don’t have to worry about stepping back into a classroom for another eight weeks but I feel like I should be doing something now to prepare for that day. I have the anxious feeling that sitting around and lounging is wrong. A million thoughts enter my head; maybe I should go into the school and prepare my classroom and tidy up a little bit? Should I organize my binders? Should I start planning my math program for next year? Should I tweak some activities and lessons while I have the time and head space? A multitude of questions without any correct answers.

This is where the anxiety comes from. As teachers, we are accustomed to getting work done and being on a strict schedule. We follow a daily schedule and within each period of time we try to stick to a structured plan. Everything about the teacher’s life is structure, and when such openness comes it is truly hard to cope, especially in those first few weeks. So what I am going to try to do, as much as I can, is relax.

It is okay to relax, we deserve it. We have been through a ten-month marathon during which some days were harder than others. But to continue with planning and preparing only prolongs the anxiety and disenchants the heart. I am going to focus on reading, working out, maybe finding a new hobby such as learning how to really cook or meditating and doing things that are going to get me back to being centered. The summer should be your time to learn. Committing to the idea of being a “life-long learner” doesn’t just exist within the additional courses and workshops we take. Taking some time to develop yourself is probably the most important way you can come back to school feeling mentally fresh.

I will take some time over the next few weeks, when it is natural, to make sure that I am prepared for the upcoming year. My mind will not let me not do that. But I also understand that having the summer off is such a blessing and it should be taken advantage of. So when the time comes to relax, I am going to try to relax 100%. There is no time to be anxious and feel the need to constantly do something. That will all come pouring back in the fall. Believe me, take your summer. Enjoy it, and learn how to get back to you, the person, so when you do go back in the fall, you can become a better you, the teacher. More well-rounded and devoted and eager to connect to another crop of students.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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