I’m not just a traveler. I’m also an educator.
I’ve spent the last 8 years of my life teaching and working in public schools trying to close the opportunity gap (check out my write-up on Humans of DC!). I believe that this mission is one of the most important lines of work one can pursue, and is also one of the most personally exhausting (nurses and social workers, I’m looking at you!).
As exhausting as our line of work is, it’s important that we maximize every opportunity to recharge.
Below, find my 8 sure-fire ways to make the most of your summer as a teacher:
1. Ignore the feeling that you should be doing something.
Yes. It feels like fall is looming ahead.
Yes. You could be reading all the education books you can find.
Yes. You might be dying to build relationships with your future students and colleagues.
But for heaven’s sake, please don’t carry the weight of what you should be doing into the summer! All year long you use your non-instructional time, nights, and weekends to plan, grade, plan some more, grade some more, meet with parents, tutor students, and everything else under the sun. If you’re feeling inspired to pick up Great Habits, Great Readers, awesome! But if you’re doing it because you feel like you should? You’re not going to be able to recharge!
2. Plan your time wisely.
How often is the standard reply to “how was your weekend/summer/break?” “Not long enough!” Don’t let that be true for you. There’s enough time in 2 weeks to accomplish a lot of great things for yourself. A two-week trip to Italy? Awesome! Visit all of the free museums in DC? Fantastic! Just because you have the time off doesn’t mean it has to be 100% unstructured. Keep getting up early (though maybe not as early!) just use your time differently!
3. And on that note, plan ahead.
A trip to Greece won’t plan itself. And waiting until summer will mean prices are sky-high. Start planning NOW for how you’ll maximize the time. Oh, and while you’re at it, maybe start planning for Thanksgiving Break, Winter Break, and Spring Break too.
4. You do you.
I get it. You don’t want to miss out on instructional time with your students. I feel you! But, take it from me – don’t neglect your self-care to the point where you will have to take more time away down the line to make up for the missed maintenance. Schedule all of your routine doctor and dentist appointments. Then, schedule in some fun appointments! Into pedicures? Massages? Coffee dates with friends? Races? Whatever floats your boat, prioritize and schedule it now!
You have weeks. Weeks! Even if you’re teaching summer school, you generally have a week off before and/or after. Head somewhere adventurous, exotic, or centering. Far away from family? Head home! Studying the evolution of democracy with your 2nd graders? Head to Greece! You’ll emerge with a whole new perspective and expanded horizons no matter where you go.
6. Meet up with colleagues and bond as friends.
Forget planning (or maybe plan, but then just bond!). Be vulnerable and let yourself be seen for who you really are as a person. Host a BBQ or a 4th of July party. Get to know each other’s families. Not only is it just plain good and healthy, it also enhances the speed of trust allowing you to work more productively and cohesively as colleagues when school comes back around!
7. Rekindle those old hobbies.
If you’re anything like me, you once defined yourself by the sports you played, the instruments you played, or the music you listen to. Whatever it was, take some time to rekindle that old hobby of yours. You’ll have more than enough time to find a cooking class, a yoga retreat, a drum circle, or whatever tickles your fancy!
8. Practice what you preach!
We tell our students that lifelong learning is invaluable – and it is! Continue your lifelong learning through Summer Reading or perhaps a MOOC. Reflect. Listen to more audiobooks or Podcasts. Visit a couple museums or try out a movie you wouldn’t otherwise see. And, of course, travel 🙂