You made it! So…kick back and chill out for the next 60 days? Maybe a little. But you’ll want to make the most of the break, both personally and professionally, to feel renewed for the fall.
First, don’t underestimate your need to rest. However invigorating, enlightening, and inspiring the past year was, there were times when it was downright exhausting. Rest is crucial, even if you feel you don’t need it. This doesn’t mean locking yourself in a room with blackout shades and sleeping 24/7. But be (a little bit) selfish, and find the right way to replenish, whether it’s spending time reading and going on peaceful walks—or treating yourself to spa visits or long lunches with friends.
Then, pay attention to what you need for your personal development. Enriching your own life will enhance your practice and influence your students positively. Take the time to be a student again yourself. That could mean traveling to new places, taking a class to learn about something you’ve always been interested in, or delving into something entirely new—the act of engaging in a learning activity will open your eyes to the world. Reflect upon the experience as well: what worked for you, what didn’t, and how all of this can relate to your own practice. It will make you a better teacher—and a better person.
Or maybe you’ve opted to teach summer school. If you’re doing it out of necessity, don’t choose a grade where you’ll feel out of your depth. Instead, try one you know, but experiment with new methods and strategies that you want to implement in your classroom next fall. These kids need you badly (that’s why they’re in summer school), so be dynamic and deliver the most exciting class they will have ever taken. It will give them a new twist on education, and you will have the fun of inventing and trying out new systems.
Another piece of the puzzle might be finding great sources of professional development. Choose a subject that you’ll implement soon. It will make the autumn that much better for you as a teacher and get you excited to be back in the classroom. If you want to improve your math skills, go for it. If you are curious about a new language program, take a class that gives you a leg up on it. Finally, don’t wait until you’ve packed away this year’s last worksheet—start planning now.
Maybe I’ll see you kayaking down the Nile, or at a class in (fill in the blank) at the U of (fill in the blank), or doing fieldwork that involves learning the name of every tree within 100 miles of your school. Whatever you decide to do, make the most of your summer!
Illustration: John W. Tomac