Students often think of school as a marathon, and even the slightest utterance of the word “summer” calls forth images of a beautiful bright banner that marks the finish line. For teachers, this is not the case. Even though summer does also provide a break for teachers, they don’t get to experience the same sense of freedom as their students.
Being a teacher means keeping your body of knowledge in tip-top shape. Summer break equals a lot of preparation for the coming marathon, especially since teachers have to stay a few steps ahead of their students in order to guide the race over the course of the next school year.
Here are some ideas and guidelines that are aimed at helping teachers keep up with their summer-training schedules:
Decompress. The concept of spare time is a foreign one for teachers. When summer arrives, teachers often need a couple of weeks to adjust and to realize that they are NOT behind on grading homework. In fact, during my research, I came across this humorous account of a summer from the perspective of a teacher who just can’t seem to relax.
Pamper Yourself. Even though the idea of relaxation may be harder for some than others, it is still important that teachers take time in the summer for things that they truly enjoy doing – not things they have to do. There are a multitude of things that can provide an escape, from attending to a garden, to getting a massage, to going on a cruise. Do whatever floats your boat (pun not intended). Stepping away from school will help you become a better teacher.
Reflect. Speaking of stepping away, summer time also provides the important opportunity to look back at the highs and lows of the previous school year. Examine the lows and critically think about what you could do to avoid these situations in the next year, but focus mainly on the highs so that you can cultivate a positive attitude within your subconscious about the upcoming school year.
Inspire Yourself. Another helpful way to rekindle positive feelings about your job as a teacher is to rediscover why you became one in the first place. Who doesn’t lose sight of a few things during hectic times? Here is a really cool website that offers stories about the teachers of famous celebs who inspired their pupils to stardom. If you are really having a hard time finding inspiration, always remember to think of the starfish:
Say Thank You. While you’re feeling all those lovely positive feelings after re-inspiring yourself, take the time to say those two simple words: “Thank you.” For all the occasions a colleague helped you out, put your newly-acquired spare time to good use by actually properly thanking those people for their kindness. It can be as simple as sending a card or a note, but it’s still important. You haven’t forgotten how they made you feel, so let them know about the difference they made. Send them to your fellow teachers and even to administrators. This is a great way to create friendships and build a strong network that you will be able to rely on for any help you may need in the future. If you’re feeling particularly grateful, maybe even take the time to send a thank you note to that coworker you don’t always get along with so well.
Reconnect. As you busy yourself cultivating new friendships, don’t forget about the ones who have always been there for you. Take this opportunity to reconnect with friends – ask them about their lives and show them that even when times get busy, you still value their friendships.
Create Family Time. Just as maintaining healthy friendships is important, even more so is giving your all to your family. If you have kids, as a teacher, you realize that staying involved in what is going on in your children’s lives is of the highest importance. Use the summer as an opportunity for bonding by planning family adventures that will further development while preventing summer learning loss. Make sure you also show your spouse how thankful you are for their support and patience – let them know you haven’t forgotten how understanding they were when you spent all those long nights conducting parent-teacher meetings and grading papers.
Plan Parent Involvement. Take some time to come up with ideas that will get parents involved in helping out with the classroom next fall. Make a letter to send to the parents of all your new students that expresses how crucial parent volunteers are for a successful classroom environment. Make up a syllabus for your classroom next year and be sure to include a note to parents to include their e-mail addresses so you can keep them in the loop.
Improve Classroom Procedures. Teachers have to make the most out of their time away from students, so use the summer to improve upon your classroom procedures in order to maximize your efficiency in the upcoming school year. For more helpful tips on improving classroom procedures, such as effective filling systems, check out this article.
Revamp Old Lessons. Think about a few lessons that could use improvement and spend a few hours at a time giving them a new perspective. Think about your learning objectives (what you want the students to take away), plan effective and fun learning activities (something that will really capture your students’ attention), and come up with an assessment plan to implement throughout the course of the lessons and activities to make sure the kids are absorbing what you want them to. For more help on lesson planning, click here. Remember, triumph starts with "try" and ends with a whole lot of "umph!"
Teach Summer School. Of course, there is usually the option to teach summer school if you are looking to make a little extra income. Talk to your principal and other administrators to find out how to get involved.
Work Part Time. It is not unusual for teachers to hold part-time jobs during the summer months, though it might not be right for everyone. The benefits of having a part-time job are that you are able to help ends meet and keep your time productively occupied. The cons are that finding a temporary position is not always easy or flexible, so you become somewhat tied down. Really, this is an option each person has to evaluate individually and then decide what is best for themself.
Travel and Teach. Believe it or not, there is a way to combine seeing the world and your important work as a teacher. Organizations such as Geeo help teachers afford traveling to all sorts of international locations while also using their knowledge and practice to better the lives of others.
Learn Something New. Whether it’s taking up a hobby (such as pottery or painting), or signing up for a class at a local community college, learning something new will give you even more inspiration, knowledge, and skills to draw from when planning lessons and activities for next year.
Expand Your Knowledgebase. Of course, I saved the most important tip for last. Make sure that summer is a time of professional development for you as a teacher. There are so many opportunities to travel to seminars and workshops, as well as a plethora of online resources that give you credits that can go towards renewing your license.
For some instant and free online resources, check out Reading Horizons awesome library of Webinars (you can download the slideshows and request a Certificate of Attendance) or sign up for our free Online Workshop and fall in love with teaching reading all over again. You can also download our e-book and improve you methods for teaching students with learning disabilities.
Comment below and let us know what you think the best way for a teacher to spend their summer is!