Making the Most of Summer #TeacherMyth

Summer is such a gift. That opportunity to reset, to relax, to engage in other passions and hobbies. It’s great. But only if we use it well.

In the past, I’ve found myself frustrated because I’m not making the most of my break. (I know, big problem, right?)

But here’s the thing: I hate wasting a break.

No, I don’t end every break rethinking how I should have done things, but I know that a passive approach rarely yields desired results.

This week is my first week of summer, and I’m determined to figure out a way to make this summer a great one. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? I’ve spent some time thinking through what I can control to help this summer be a great one. Here are a few of the guidelines I plan to use to keep me focused throughout the summer of 2017.

Actually take a break

(This one is really easy and really tough. I’m putting it first because it’s the one I’m most likely to forget this summer.)

Slow down. Slow way down. Do something that has nothing to do with your work. Read a book. Sit by the pool. Enjoy time with friends and family. Press into a hobby that the school year keeps you from. It will make you better at your work when you return. You’ll have experiences that you can pull from and stories to tell. Both make you a better educator.

Challenge yourself as an educator

There are so many ways to grow yourself over the summer. Jump into a Twitter chat, read a book (maybe even one just for fun), join a Voxer group, attend a conference or visit an EdCamp. Whatever it is, find something to push your thinking this summer. We so rarely have a chance to pull back from the busy nature of the school year. Don’t miss the opportunity to do something great with the gift of time we have over the summer.

Establish a new habit

Making the choice to do something different and actually developing the habit of doing something different are totally different practices and experiences. Summer provides enough margin for most educators that we should take advantage of the time and use it to our advantage. What do you want to work into your daily routines that isn’t there now?

Invest at home

For me, this is a big one. The school year is something that I love, but it really takes it out of me at times. We get overextended for all sorts of reasons throughout the school year. To say the least, our work in education is tough. And we’re not wired up with infinite energy. We absolutely have limits to what we can give. Probably the most challenging tweet I saw last year asked, “Are you giving so much at school that you don’t have anything left to give when you get home?” I can’t recall where I came across it, but I’ll never forget that idea.

During the summer, I don’t have to balance that. I can be fully present, but I have to choose to do that. So here’s my little pep talk for myself: Ignore your work email for a bit. Maybe go a whole day or two without even checking it. Whatever you do, do something with the people who matter most to you. Then, do more with them. They’re what matter most. /PepTalk

Create a plan for disrupting the status quo next year

I love that we get that new year feel twice a year in education–once in August and again in January. Just like a new year’s resolution, any change we want to make next year isn’t likely to be the result of a simple choice or two. It’s within reach, but it’s going to take a plan. More than a resolution, I hope you take next year head on. What is it that you want to reimagine about the school experience you provide for others? Do you want to drop grades and give students better feedback? Trade status quo faculty meetings for personalized PD? Have kids show up to a classroom that doesn’t look at all like what they expect and gets them excited about learning next year? I hope your last school year was incredible, but I hope that 17-18 is even more amazing! Don’t wait to see if your August PD is going to set you on a course for an amazing school year.

What else do you do to make summer great? If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments below.

I hope you have a wonderful summer!

If you like what you’re reading here, consider checking out my book, Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth. The book highlights six truths that will help you THRIVE as an educator, including one–Imagine It Better–that discusses how we can and should disrupt the status quo in education. Read more about the book here or find the book on Amazon