School's Out! Time to Reflect, Plan, and Enjoy the Summer

School’s out for the summer! Are you relishing that thought? Excited to sleep in, have your evenings to yourself, and have some “me” time? Of course! But for some teachers, it can also be a challenge to find just the right balance between letting go of routines and responsibilities, and being able to truly embrace the lack of structure.

Maybe you are simply grateful for downtime. No bells, email chains, attendance logs, requests for pencils, or too-brief prep times. If you have your own children at home, you may be thrilled to be able to spend daytime with them. Sleeping in on mornings may feel luxurious.  Catching up on Netflix series may be tempting you. And instead of professional development reading, you can enjoy magazines, beach reads, selections from the bestseller lists, or whatever you want.

But of course, you are an educator, and so you may find yourself needing to do some analysis and planning before you can truly relax and embrace your downtime. That’s part of who you are. So here are some thoughts on ways to get your “homework” done and help you relax and enjoy the summer you deserve.

Looking Back

Summer is a good time to reflect on the academic year you’ve just finished. Yes, it’s over, but you may want to clear up any lingering or unresolved issues that prevent you from truly relaxing. 

Just the way you encourage your students to journal and reflect, take some time to consider the past year—the good, the bad, and the ugly. As you reflect, jot down some notes.

  • What went really, really well this year? What made it so good? 

  • Who were your biggest supporters this year?

  • What are you most proud of? How did you make it happen? 

  • What resources were most helpful to you in doing your job? Other teachers? Supervisors? Colleagues? Parents? Professional books? Online resources? 

  • What were your challenges? Where did they come from? The administration? A particular student or family? New performance expectations? 

Now, think about how you addressed the challenges you faced. 

  • What did you do? What steps did you take?

  • What worked well? Not so well?

Looking Ahead

  • What do you want to repeat next year based on the success you’ve had?

  • What do you want to do differently next year? How will you implement this new plan?

Think about what you already know about the coming year.

  • What do you anticipate to be your greatest challenge ahead? Is there a new curriculum? A change in administration? Are you teaching a different grade or subject? 

  • What excites you about the challenge? What worries you?

Think and write about how you might meet that challenge. Sometimes seeing thoughts in writing can help you sort out your ideas, and can enable you to let go of your concerns and move on.

Write yourself some encouraging notes. Include reminders of how you’ve succeeded in the past.

Looking at Right Now

OK. You’ve done your homework. Time to face the present.

First, consider the category of endeavors related to your career.

Some teachers seek out classes or professional development opportunities. Local colleges, universities, and community colleges may offer courses that would be interesting and helpful. Check online and with colleagues for recommendations. 

Are you looking for ways to increase your income? Some teachers find that tutoring during the summer is a good way to capitalize on their experience. Of course, there are tutoring centers that might welcome your help. You may want to strike out on your own and tutor privately. It can offer flexible schedule options and be extremely lucrative. Word of mouth, local bulletin boards, and public libraries are places to spread the word about your availability and expertise.

If you feel you would like to do some preparation for the coming year, fleshing out your classroom library can be an enjoyable mission. Stopping at yard and library sales is a way to inexpensively add some titles to your collection. Read up on the focus areas targeted for next year. Chat with colleagues to share ideas.

Now, put aside those career concerns. It is time to consider your own enjoyment and enrichment.

Use the time to catch up on all that reading you’ve neglected. When was the last time you read Charlotte’s Web,The Phantom Tollbooth, Lord of the Flies or Jane Eyre

Have you shied away from the complex text of James Joyce or William Faulkner? Always meant to read War and Peace (unabridged)? Rise to the challenge! Or maybe just curl up with an enticing mystery or spy story, or an undemanding beach-read that makes you cry.

In fact, you never know how certain experiences may impact you as a teacher. 

Struggling to get into that headstand yoga pose may give you insights into the struggle some of your students might have to comprehend a tough concept. As you work to master the pose, building it little by little during each practice, you will gain insights that may help you inspire students to progress in their learning, building each step upon the one before.

As you train for a half marathon and develop strategies to push yourself another yard, and then another and another, you will better understand the type of self-talk and encouragement that could motivate a student who needs to build stamina in reading

As you endeavor to study conversational Italian, the challenges of learning a new language may help you be especially sensitive to the needs of the English Language Learners you teach.

Finally, take time this summer to let go. Give yourself time to relax, and enjoy some time doing what makes youfeel nurtured. You deserve it.