Yay, summer break is here. Can I get a hip hip hooray for all of us teachers who survived the craziest year in education ever! Today we’re going to think about our summer break. It is here and oh, how we’ve missed it. But now what? Although binge watching YouTube videos and avoiding real pants for the next few months sounds like a dream, I personally know that it isn’t. So how do we take on this huge chunk of time and use it in a meaningful and effective way that gives us the rest we deserve but the growth that we need? Well, sweet friend, I’ve got some tips for you today on how to make this your best summer ever.
Real quick, I want you to know that this post is sponsored by our recently completed Finish with Joy podcast series. This is a four part audio training and free downloadable workbook designed to help you go from tired and burned out to refocused and joyful. This series can be your first step to taking some of the negativity from the school year and reorganizing it to become a more effective, impactful, and joyful teacher.
The Difference a Summer Can Make
I want to start with a little personal story. Back in 2017, I gave birth to my baby girl, Kristen. I gained a lot of weight before and during my pregnancy and really allowed my health to fall to the wayside. I actually had her near the beginning of the school year in August, so I didn’t have time to refocus on my health during that school year. When summer of 2018 rolled around, I knew that I would utilize my time off to focus on my health.
I left that school year with goals in mind and wow, did it make a huge difference. I planned out how I would accomplish this goal and envisioned myself re-entering the classroom at a much lighter and healthier, more energized weight. And that is exactly what happened! I lost about 45 to 50 pounds.
What I want you to focus on here is going into summer break with a plan, because without a plan our time is not organized. It’s like you blink, and suddenly summer break is over.
But if we create goals for ourselves for the summer, then we can use it effectively. That’s what I want for you, teacher. I want the success that I felt after the summer of 2018 to become your reality.
I want you to accomplish big goals while still getting the rest that you deserve.
I’m not saying we have to wear real pants. And I’m not saying you can’t binge watch your favorite shows. What I’m saying is let’s think about our time and be very intentional.
The first step is to decide your goals. Think about what you want to accomplish in the time that you have. Decide for yourself what is important for you this summer.
In 2018, my number one priority was my children. But secondly, it was my health. And that is exactly what I accomplished. If we set goals for what we want to accomplish, and we make those goals specific, our chances of accomplishing those things and feeling less regretful about how we spend our time is guaranteed.
So your first step in having your best summer ever is to decide what you want to accomplish. Think about your personal life, your health, your career, and where you want to go in the future.
Just to give you some ideas, my goals for this summer are to help my children learn to read. I have two preschoolers who are on the verge of becoming readers and a first grader who needs more reading development. So one of my goals is to work with my girls and help them become readers.
I also have this goal of creating a professional development experience called Joyful Teacher Academy. I want to have that ready for teachers by the beginning of August. That is a huge goal for me. I am also working on an extensive letter of the week curriculum for kindergarten teachers. I know getting that done and in the hands of kindergarten teachers is so meaningful and important to me.
So what are your goals for the summer? How can you complete them in the time that you have?
Create a Schedule
After you have decided your goals, I absolutely 100% recommend that you create a summer schedule. Now if you are not a parent, this is a lot simpler, but I have had to work pretty hard so far to get a working schedule for all four kids.
We know how important routines and schedules are to our students, but maybe we don’t realize how important they are for ourselves. Having lots of unstructured time on hand can lead to stress and anxiety. The Northwestern Medicine website says that many people who don’t have any type of routine or schedule suffer from more stress, poor sleep, poor eating and physical condition and ineffective use of their time. One quote says, “Often no routine means you simply run out of time leaving things undone and not making the most of what you have.”
You don’t have to tell us that! We cherish every minute with our students. We work those schedules around to make sure we get the most important things fit in. Why don’t we do that with our time off?
You don’t have to stick to it down to the minute as if in the classroom. But know what you want to accomplish each day and have time slots to get that done.
Making Summer Routines
So as an example, I told you I want to work with my girls this summer on becoming readers. I have intentional time set within every week day to sit down independently with each girl for about 20 minutes. That time runs from about 9:30 to 10:30. It’s worked wonders already to be on that routine, and they love it too.
What can you do every day to ensure that you’ve reached that goal before the summer’s end? The best way to accomplish these goals is to start early and do little things each day that lead up to you reaching that goal.
I also recommend getting up at the same time every day. Keep your sleep on a schedule, because studies have shown that sleep is so important to our mental physical health. I love going to bed early! Call me a granny. I don’t care. This is my thing because it helps me be the optimal Toni that I can be.
De-Stress and Recharge
Now let’s talk about the fun stuff. One of your goals should be to de-stress from the school year and to recharge for the next one. We need and deserve rest. But let’s do it the most effective way. Within your daily schedule, set aside time for you. Choose something that is focused on helping you to recharge those batteries that have been absolutely abused this year. Make sure that you leave time to do these things that help you be calm, collected and peaceful.
For me it’s rest with my family and being present with them. One thing that causes me a lot of stress is social media. So I decided to delete it completely from my phone, and I can only access it from one computer in my house. This is a great way for me to be more present with my children, and wow do I feel a lift of the load of stress that it usually gives me.
I like to watch my children play outside. So after our lesson time in the morning, we go outside for an hour every day. I walk around the yard, hold the baby, breathe in the wonderful fresh air, and listen to my children laugh and play.
How can you plan opportunities to recharge within your schedule? If that means taking a long shower every morning, put that in there. Decide you’re going to do it and figure out when. Maybe you have a family member that you just love to speak to. For me, it’s my Mamaw Mina Mae. I call her every day, because that is a way for me to recharge my batteries.
So think about how you can de-stress and recharge this summer and make actionable steps to make that reality.
Grow and Prepare
One last area I really want you to think and ponder about is how can you grow and prepare this summer for your next school year. If you think about it, we are teachers for nine months out of the year. That is the same amount of time that it takes your body to create and birth a human. But instead of making a human, we are building these huge, deeply rooted connections with children. We focus on their educational goals, and we get them there before the end.
What if we used our summer before this huge event to grow as an educator and prepare for what’s ahead? I know many teachers are moved around. Maybe you’re not sure what you’ll be teaching. But if you’re a primary educator, this is certainly a wonderful time to grow and develop in certain areas. For example, classroom management. You guys know, I preach it all the time. We can never know enough strategies or understand our students’ needs enough.
If you do know your placement for next year, you can prepare by getting all your materials organized and prepped. Let’s make a clear cut plan of what we need and do it little by little through the summer.
That is my goal. We actually adopted a new reading curriculum last summer that I never fully got a good grasp on. I’m working on that every week to make sure that I’m prepared.
Find opportunities to grow as an educator, whether this is reading books, listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, or maybe taking an online professional development of your choice.
Wouldn’t it feel amazing to walk into your classroom in August, or whenever you begin, knowing that you are prepared for the school year?
Have Your Best Summer Yet
I’ve decided, because of some big goals that I have, to take off podcasting and blogging for the next two weeks. This is the first time I’ve done this. So I’m a little nervous, but I know that I need to recharge with my family to come back with the most effective content that I can provide. I will return with you on July the first, and I cannot wait.
Maybe you can find some previous episodes or posts that you’ve missed to catch up on your classroom management or development or whatever you’re interested in. I hope you can get started on your best summer ever in the meantime. And as always until we meet again, go make a difference, teacher friend.