Summer is finally here. While many people think that teachers have the whole summer off to do nothing and be lazy, we know otherwise. Many teachers spend their entire summer break prepping and planning for the next school year. While it is good to spend some time planning and preparing so that you don't need to spend as much time next year, it is essential actually to enjoy your summer. Here are some teacher tips for doing just that.
Teacher Tip 1: Unplug the First Few Weeks
After a long school year, your body and mind are ready for a vacation. They are ready to slow down and unwind. The best thing you can do is cut yourself off from everything teacher-related for the first few weeks. Head to your phone, turn off email from work, and turn off the work calendar and contacts. If there is a social media platform that you are only one for teaching tips, laughs, and strategies, then turn it off also. Take a break from Youtube, Podcasts, Pinterest, Facebook teacher groups, Tik Tok, and Instagram. Do not do any trainings during this time or read any educational books.
Instead, take time to do nothing. Sleep in and stay in your PJs for the whole morning. Go to the beach or get out in nature. Plan a mini-vacation and get away for a few nights. Read a novel that you haven't had time for. Binge-watch a series that everyone has been talking about. Do something you love for yourself. This is your time, and you've earned this break.
Teacher Tip 2: Reflect, Improve, and Learn
Once you have had a few weeks to recharge, relax, and refresh, you are probably ready to start thinking about the new school year and what it will look like. Now is the time to reflect on the previous year and decide what you want to continue doing, what you want to change, and what you want to improve upon. Is there a strategy that you believe you could do better? Is there a new strategy that you want to try out next year? This is the time to start watching the youtube videos, listening to podcasts, reading educational books, Jump back into the teacher groups and ask for guidance, search on Pinterest for new ideas, and take a course, workshop, or training on a strategy you want to try or improve upon.
The important thing to remember during this time is to limit yourself to the number of hours you will spend learning. It is still your summer vacation, and the most important thing for you to do now is to have fun and be with friends and family. So limit yourself to a few hours a day or week. Set aside time during the day for you to work on learning, and then once that time is up, walk away.
Teacher Tip 3: Wait Until the last two weeks of summer to start planning for the new year
I don't start planning for the new year until the last two weeks of summer. By then, I would have learned a new strategy or learned how to improve upon a strategy I am already using, and my new ideas and creativity are flowing. During this time, do a very brief overview of the school year. Plan out which topics you will teach and when you will teach them. Once this is done, focus only on the first month or two of the school year. Create your more detailed lesson plan for the first month. What you will teach, how you will teach it, what lessons you will include… So many things can happen that you won't want to spend a lot of time detailed planning for the first half of the year only to find out that you need to make some significant changes. That is why I plan for only 4-6 weeks at a time. Lastly, prep all of the materials you will need for the first two weeks. This is the time to print all the handouts you will need, gather the materials and if you are doing group labs, put the supplies each group will need into bags or containers.
Taking the time now to prep for the new year will help your first few weeks run more smoothly, and you can instead spend your time getting to know your students instead of planning and prepping.
Teacher Tip 4: Self-care at the end of the summer
Before you head back into the classroom, take some time for yourself. You have been learning, planning, and prepping to get yourself ready, and now it's time to treat yourself for all the work you've been putting in. Spend a few hours or a full day doing something non-work-related just for you. Have a spa day and get your nails done. Go to the beach and relax in the Sun. Spend a night in a nearby hotel with a fantastic view or pool and relax. Do a movie night or date night. Go hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, or take time to read a novel. Just do something you love that is for you.
Teacher Tip 5: Add more Joy to your summer
With the stress of teaching, especially in the 2020-2022 school years, we sometimes forget to laugh and have fun. Now is the time to bring more joy and happiness into your life. Do something silly that makes you laugh. Be a kid at heart again. Do something you love that makes you smile. I love to laugh and smile and try to do more things that will bring me joy. Being in a state of happiness improves your physical and mental health. What is something you are going to do today that will make you smile, laugh, and bring you more joy?