In the name of BOTH adequately recharging AND being ready for next year, here are a few ways to feel personally and professionally awesome about how you spent your summer:
1. Accomplish ONE thing from your Bucket List
...or, your "I've been meaning to" list, all those things you mean to do during the school year but never seem to get around to. Go to that Farmer's Market, see that movie (finally), call That Friend who you're overdue to see, or clean THAT closet (you know the one). Do at least ONE thing that will ease your conscience and help you relax even better.
2. Read a Trifecta.
...meaning, read at least one "teacher book", one book JUST for you, and one book that your students might like. Obviously some of us will read way more than three, and those categories may overlap, (I'm reading some books that I personally want to read that are also YA), but reading at least those three will make you feel more balanced.
(Watch out for an upcoming blog post with some teacher books I'm reading this summer, as well as more book reviews! Subscribe with email, bloglovin', or Google+ to avoid missing future posts!)
3. Have at least one social meet-up with a coworker.
Whether it's your coteacher, an entire department, a mentor/mentee, or even another teacher friend outside your building, enhance your relationships NOW to make them stronger before the next year, when you might have less time to bond with them.
4. Do something physical.
I rejoined my gym this spring and signed up for my first Quarter Marathon in August to keep myself motivated (eek!), but you don't have to go that far. Get a Groupon for a trial fitness class, map out what it would take to walk a mile in your neighborhood, or get extra pool time. Even if you don't amount to any noticeable change in your body, you will simply FEEL better to get your good brain chemicals kickin'! (And, I'm hoping that getting in shape now will make the exertion of back to school a little easier.)
5. Fix one everyday problem.
I recently broke down and went to an actual shoe store that analyzed my stride, foot shape, etc. and got the exact-right pair of shoe insoles... and it's a game changer. I already have less knee and back pain, and I know what kinds of shoes to buy from now on.
Use the summer for some trial and error and find one little thing that will make life better on a regular basis. Want to wean off Diet Coke and drink something else?
6. Learn one new skill.
It doesn't have to be a language or an instrument - but learn one new thing. Whether it's first aid for the classroom, how to use Google Apps better, or how to knit, empower yourself with a new skill!
Here's a fun Buzzfeed List of ideas to get you started!
7. Make one crafty thing.
Okay, fine, it can be for your classroom. One summer, I took a cheap magnetic bulletin board and turned it into a magnetic Scrabble set for the classroom. This summer, I'm making a cute banner out of ruined pages of a book to possibly hang in the room.
8. Update your calendar (and its alarms!)
Make sure you have every birthday you need, and set an alarm for it one week in advance. Repeat for anniversaries or anything else you don't want to forget, just because it snuck up on you during a busy week at school.
9. Find your Magic Number.
And I don't mean a lucky number or the number on a Sleep Number bed - I'm talking about the number of hours of sleep you need to be a real human. Thanks to my Fitbit, I know that my number is 7 hours. Any less, and I feel like death warmed over; any more than that, and I feel groggy and lethargic. Figure out NOW how much sleep you ACTUALLY need - it might not be the number you think!
10. Pick ONE big thing to get excited about for next school year.
Motivation will not happen by itself, my friend. Even if you're pretty content with your curriculum and how your classroom works, find either one new thing to try, one new thing to do differently, or one thing you're most excited about.
My big thing is that I'm going to implement my "Talk" Conference Speech Unit this year, building up to it gradually each quarter until we do our big video conference at the end of the year. (A longer post on this later!)
Bonus: Identify your biggest school stressor and fix it NOW.
Is there a standard that you have a hard time getting students to master? Do you need to add a routine? Does grading suck the joy out of your evenings? Try to problem solve at least one area now to feel better about next year from the get-go.
Here are a few helpful resources to think about:
- How can I make grading less painful?
- How can I make public speaking more fun?
- How can I make essay writing less dry?
- How can I bring in more poetry with zero time?
- How can I make time for narrative writing, when I teach mostly literature?
- How can I get all students to talk more in discussions?
- How can I celebrate Banned Books week without getting in trouble?
No matter how you spend your summer, have a WONDERFUL, relaxing time!