Ahhh, another school at or near a close. Though there is something fresh about the first day of a new semester and that feeling of “rebirth,” there is a completely different feeling at the end of a school year: exhausted but satisfying, like having competed in a big race. You have rounded the last corner, legs are cramping, lungs are burning, but you are able to…flop your body across the finish line. The glories of the school year have now become the glories of summer.
If you are like me, you have your 14 weeks of summer carefully considered lest you waste one precious day. And so my question for you is this: “how are you going to utilize your time to renew, recharge, and rebuild?” Granted, we are all mentally exhausted and we purposefully planned our semester to have at least two brain cells left to get those “why in the world did I assign this the last week of school” projects done and grades entered. And now we long for an induced coma to replenish.
But after that vacation, what is your game plan for this summer? Today I would like to share three strategies that I use to move myself forward during this time of year. Because the truth is that we, as teachers, can stagnate very easily and carry good intentions into another school year. And so here is my “Top 3 Summer Ideas” for you to peruse.
- Get reading. If you are going to be a master teacher, you need to carve out time to read. Read articles, blogs, books, and journals. Follow a blog or two that will incite creative thinking about your craft. Find two books per month related to teaching that you plan to read over the summer. And by the way, if you do not have an e-reader, save your shekels and purchase a Kindle Paperwhite. One of the best investments I have ever made. I can send articles to it and purchase books for it. If you do not care about all the gadgetry of an Apple iPad, save $200 and buy a Kindle reader.
- Get organized. As I have surveyed my own weaknesses, I have come to realize that many of my problems lie with the fact that I am busy but not busy with the right things. Two suggestions: first, learn how to use Outlook if you are a PC person or something like a Toodle-Do if you are an Apple-ite. I purchased Master Your Workday Now! and found it to be one of the greatest organizational “Aha” moments that I have ever read. It revolutionized the way I approach my days. Second, learn how to use a program such as OneNote or Evernote. Great tools for documenting, organizing, and moving away from all things paper. Awesome teaching resource.
- Get add-ons and plug-ins. Learn one new aspect of teaching over the summer. Making better Power Points. Speaking with more energy. Moving away from all lecture. Anything. Students change and with that our skill sets must be kept fresh so that we are able to maximize our ability to connect. Because bottom line, it IS all about the relationships. Can I make a suggestion? Start with a big concept that has changed me as a teacher: learner centered teaching.
There you have it. These are not brand new ideas but they are intentional and they are moving me forward in my profession during the summer. Take time to slow down but also take time to move your expertise forward. You’ll be glad you did. Now where are my pool floaties? I need a break.
Community Input: So what do you do to recharge yourself during the summer?