Monday, June 12, 2017

10 Ways to Make This Summer Count

There is nothing like the feeling of the first day of summer vacation! You've poured your heart and soul into the school year, helped your students grow personally and academically and attended more meetings than you care to count. Before you awaits seemingly endless days of rest and relaxation - the glorious days of summer break.
Teachers should absolutely use summer break to relax and recharge. I love to work hard for my students but I need to high-tail it to the beach at the start of summer and spend the day listening to the surf and feeling the sand beneath my toes. That being said, I also think we need to make every moment count - in terms of relaxation, personal and professional development. Don't let those beautifully endless days escape you. Here are 10 ways to make summer count:

1. Get a Hobby
No, lesson planning is not a hobby. :)  Find something that enriches your life and helps you develop a skill that you're passionate about. Practice photography, go birding, garden, learn to dance, write stories, take cooking classes, learn about woodworking, or take an art class. There are so many "life extras" that get sidetracked during the school year. Now is the time to explore your interests and make time for you.

2. Travel for YOU
Travel by yourself, with your family and/or your friends and explore the world around you. I love setting up my summer vacation budget to save for my next vacation. It's exhilarating to see the total inch up towards my week or two of summer fun!

3. Travel for WORK
You can combine this idea with your family vacation, but along with my regularly planned summer vacation I also choose somewhere that's relevant to my classroom. One summer I went to Washington D.C. to learn about our country's history. Another summer, I made a point to visit 3 local historical parks to learn about my state's heritage. When you travel for work, you can pick up brochures, take pictures and gain experiences that have a direct impact on your classroom. Teaching my students about the Battle of Antietam after I had seen it brought the events to life. Students were more interested in learning about the history because I had personal connections and stories to tell them.  

4. Volunteer
Teachers certainly put in lots of extra hours before and after school. Summer offers us an opportunity to use our talents to help our community in other ways, too. Perhaps you can use your knowledge of science to volunteer at a week-long summer camp or donate your time to assist at a local park or retirement facility. When you find an opportunity that melds your passion with the mission of a community organization, magical things can happen, my friends. :)

5. Consider a Side Job
Full disclosure: this is the one idea on this list that was the hardest to add because we already have full time jobs. Why should we get a side job? Some teachers need it for financial security. Others want it because they have skills that enable them to make extra money. Some have friends and families that have offered them a way to make extra spending money. Personally, I love, love, love creating resources over the summer to add to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It brings me so much joy to connect with educators around the world and find new ideas on the site to add to my own classroom. Consider finding a summer job if it will enrich your life, challenge you in new ways or provide for your family financially.

6. Take a Class
Summer is the perfect time to sign up for a class! One summer, I took a sailing class. This summer I'm looking for an online class for my own professional development. The fun part is choosing which class to take! I love the freedom of pursuing my own personal and professional enrichment during the summer months. :)

7. Read
Sadly, I don't read a lot of books for fun after work during the school year. I love to read but I'm so tired after work and caring for my responsibilities at home that my unread books are left waiting on the shelf each night. Please say I'm not alone in doing this! During summer break, I make time to read books and I search the web for new teaching blogs that will inspire me for the Back to School days!

8. Write
Along with reading, I think it's also important that we take time to write. Write about our children and our vacations. Write about our ideas for the future or write letters to friends and family. Keep a journal to reflect on your teaching practices and record your hopes and plans for the new school year. Start writing that story you've always wanted to tell. Who knows? I could be picking up your book from the bookstore in a couple summers from now. :)

9. Spend Time with Family and Friends
The summer months are precious days to spend with our significant other, beautiful kids and friends. I love planning little day trips or lunches (REAL LUNCHES!) with friends to catch up on their lives. I also try to make a point to visit with those people who I don't see very much during the school year but who are still very near and dear to my heart. Hosting a summer soiree is on my list of things to do this year!

10. Find Your Spark
Whatever you choose to do this summer, find your spark - the passion that drives you to love your life in and outside the classroom. Take time to reflect on all the reasons why teaching is the best profession in the world and gather your inspiration and energy for the new faces who await you in just a few months.

Now, go make your summer count!:) 

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