There is no doubt that these past two years have been the most challenging for educators everywhere. The pandemic has certainly exacerbated issues already plaguing education, in addition to creating a whole new litany of difficulties, obstacles and hardships. Everyone who works in a school is ready for a break. For people north of the equator, we are entering a respite time called summer.
For educators in various roles, summer may look different. If your students attend school based upon a 10-month calendar, students, teachers, and many support staff have an extended break during the summer months, while administrators and other critical staff are still reporting to work–but there is definitely a different vibe. Summertime is a time to rest, recharge, grow and prepare for the upcoming school year. Now, more than ever, we need to protect ourselves from burning out. Don’t feel guilty, be selfish and carve out some time for yourself; you will be better for it. Why not try some of the following ways to decompress from the past school year so you can be your best self for the upcoming one:
Spend time with people.
For the past two years, there have been many restrictions on social gatherings, and while there is still a need to be cautious, we have been given the green light to be social again. During the hustle and bustle of the school year, we can get caught up in the events of the school and commitments to our profession that we often put personal relationships off to the side. It is imperative to nurture the relationships with the important people in your life; you don’t get that time back. Make dates to connect with friends and family members – and remember to laugh!
Read for pleasure.
Sure, there are numerous titles of educational books that you can read during the summer – and you should, especially FiredUp Teachership (shameless plug) but, reading for absolute pleasure is a must! There is something great about virtually escaping to another land and imagining a very different life. It activates the imagination and takes you on a journey. Reading is a wonderful way to escape. If you are not a book reader, try audio books or podcasts.
Explore new things.
The world is at your fingertips. Maybe you always wanted to learn to play an instrument, learn how to paint, make mosaics, or improve your culinary skills. How about learning a foreign language? You don’t need someone to teach you, there are a million and one apps and websites that will help you learn virtually anything. There is tremendous satisfaction in being self-taught–and you might be surprised at the talents that are lurking in you waiting to come out.
If possible, travel to new places and explore the world around you. Reading about the castles in Ireland is great, but standing in them is priceless! Not everyone has a budget to travel the world, but there are great opportunities to do short trips that won’t break the piggy bank. Check out the Chamber of Commerce in your area for summertime events. Many municipalities and cities offer a plethora of things to do on the cheap. If travel is impossible, Youtube can take you anywhere!
Get the endorphins going!
Do something physical each day to get the heart rate up. Walking, running, swimming, biking and hiking are the most popular, but why not try tennis, pickleball, or windsurfing? The list of ways that you can be active is endless. Try to focus on a few activties that you can carry into the school year as a form of exercise. Your body and mind will thank you for it!
Volunteering makes the heart feel good. Check out ways that you can help others. Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross and other local organizations depend on volunteers to carry out their mission. You will not only feel great, but you may also learn some new skills along the way.
Build a PLN.
Professional learning Networks are different from Professional Learning Communities, they connect you with educators worldwide. It is invigorating to engage in professional conversations with people outside of your local area. They can share insights and ideas different from your PLC. Jump into a twitter chat or Linkedin to connect and grow in your pedagogy.
Clean out those drawers, closets and garage. There is something therapeutic about decluttering living spaces. It gives you a chance to start over with a clean slate; it feels great! Marie Condo has incredible ideas on maximizing space and decluttering your home. Take care of the things that often get neglected during the school year because of the lack of time. You are likely to feel more settled and organized for your return to school.
Tackle small projects that make you feel good. Digging in the dirt, fixing things around the house, or trying a DIY project can fill your days and give you a great sense of accomplishment.
Take a break from electronics.
During the school year, we are often married to devices for email, social media and everything google! Summertime is the perfect time to put down the phone, laptop or iPad and take a tech break. Specify hours that are a no tech zone and focus on the events happening without distraction. Be present in your surroundings and with your company.
Be at one with nature.
There is something peaceful about sitting with nature and just being still. Sitting on a warm beach or hiking in the woods allow you to breathe and let your mind wander. Being in nature is also the perfect opportunity to try some mindfulness strategies and meditation.
Plan for the upcoming school year.
I know! Summertime is to rest and recharge, but you may want to carve out some time to begin thinking about the upcoming school year so that you are not stressed or panicked when you are called upon to welcome back the students in your school. Get a jump start for awesome lessons or activities that will affect staff and students in your school. You may have some time to develop activities and experiment with ideas that you may not have ample time to do during the school year.
Sublime says that summertime is when the living is easy – or it should be! Make sure not to over-schedule yourself and get the rest that you need to recharge. Your colleagues and students will be counting on you to bring positive energy and enthusiasm into the new school year.
There is virtue in work and virtue in rest, use both and overlook neither. – Alan Cohen
Michele Hill is a passionate educator who serves as a Coordinator of Admissions and Communications and Equity Specialist at Burlington County Institute of Technology. Throughout her career as an educator, Michele has been a champion for struggling and impoverished students.Nowadays, Michele strategically markets and brands BCIT to attract and retain students and staff and highlight the amazing things happening in the school district. Michele has been a guest blogger for ASCD Inservice, McGraw Hill, Principal Leadership, Teacher Tool Kit UK, Edweek and ASCD Road Tested and is the Co-author of Fired Up Teachership and 100 No-NonsenseThings That All Teachers Should Stop Doing.