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May 24, 2016 Make the Most of Your Summer By Amanda Nehring
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

     

    As a teacher I guarantee that you have heard someone tell you that your job must be so easy because you get three months off each summer. While it’s true that we don’t have students during these vacation months, we teachers certainly work straight through June, July, and August. The toughest part of this dynamic is finding a healthy balance between work and play. Here are some tips for making the most of summertime both professionally and personally.

     

     

    Simplify your end-of-the-year classroom cleanup

    A classroom being cleaned for the summer. The first week of summer always sees me back in my classroom trying to reorganize so that it can receive a well-deserved deep clean from the custodial staff over the summer. When I first began teaching I would take everything off my bulletin boards, shelves, and desk, but I learned that I was only making my life more difficult come August. Now, it’s true that each school is different and your building may require you to do more or less cleaning than mine, but here’s what I have found to be the most useful means of simplifying my end-of-the-year cleanup:

    • Put up your back-to-school bulletin boards for next year before you leave this year. You can get everything set up the way you like it and then use old bulletin board paper you would normally recycle to cover your newly decorated boards until August. This helps to keep your new bulletin board design from fading and protects it from paint or wax that might fly around your room during cleaning. I found that my students love to help with this process, so I have them help me during the last few days of school. Now when I walk back into school in August my boards will be ready and waiting.

    • Put as many of your countertop materials as you can onto the shelves or into the cabinets below them. Cover the open shelves with leftover roll paper so your belongings are protected from the wax or water that might spray up during floor cleaning. By getting your things off the counters they will be protected during the summer and collect much less dust. In August you will just pull them out and put them right back on the counters where they belong.

    • Take a photograph of your room setup before you tear down. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can forget where you put that extra bookshelf or how best to configure desks. Having a picture of your room will make your life easier when you begin to set up again. Plus, if your custodial staff removes furniture from your room to clean during the summer, you can also leave them a copy of your picture to know where to put things back. My amazing school custodians are always so thankful when I give them my photo each year.

     

    Limit the work you bring home over the summer

    Books to read over the summer. We all have the best intentions of accomplishing a huge summer to-do list, but life always gets in the way. Instead of overwhelming yourself with your own homework, choose the two or three most important priorities and only bring those home. For me, I usually find that I am most productive with the following summer projects:

    • Select one professional development book you want to make sure you read during the summer. If you get around to reading more, great, but by choosing the most important book you’ll take some of the pressure off yourself to spend your whole summer reading work-related texts. This year I’m looking forward to reading Pam Allyn's and Ernest Morrell's Every Child a Super Reader.

    • Organize your electronic files at home. I spend all year downloading and saving a million resources to my computer and end up with so many files that I can’t even make sense of what I have. Over the summer I like to take my laptop outside and organize my downloads from the year. It is a good time to purge the things that I didn’t use and create organized folders for my favorite resources. If I have time, I even like to go back through the materials I created during the year and organize those as well. I always am so glad I did when August rolls around.

    • Prepare for the first week of school. As I shared in my blog post "Super Student Take-Home Binders," I provide each of my students with a binder to organize all of their papers for both home and school. I like to have these binders ready for the first day, so I prepare them over the summer. Each May the other first grade teachers and I send a note home to the kindergarten parents asking for $3 to cover the cost of supplies for the binders we’ll use the next year. Once we’ve collected the funds by the last day of school we can purchase the materials needed to make our binders over the summer. You’ll find me on summer evenings sitting on my family room floor with all of my binders, page protectors and folders spread out as I make my assembly line of binders while watching Netflix. It helps me not to feel rushed in the fall and gets me all ready for the first week of school. Even if you don’t have student binders to prepare, take some time over the summer to get your plans, copies and supplies ready for the first week of school. You’ll be amazed how relaxing it will be to go back to school with one week already planned and prepped.

     

    Take time for you!

    The most important recommendation I can make for a successful summer is to make sure you take time to relax and rejuvenate. These months off serve to help both students and teachers unwind and prepare themselves to start off strong in the fall. Whether you spend time with your own children, take a trip with your spouse, or just relax and enjoy the company of friends, it is vital that you foster relationships during your vacation that feed your spirit. If you are not very good at relaxing and need a few ideas, try one of these:

    • Take a vacation or staycation. Sometimes we all just need a break from the norm. Whether that means escaping to a tropical paradise or just exploring your own town, make sure to hit pause on life and have some fun. My husband and I make it a priority each year to take one vacation so that we can enjoy each other’s company and try something new. Some years our trips take us to new places and other times we just make a list of the things we keep meaning to do in our own area. It could be a new restaurant you want to try, a park you haven’t gotten to explore or even a day trip to a nearby city for a change of scenery. This summer take some time for you!

    • Read a just-for-fun book. I know I already said that you should read one professional book over the summer, but the reason I limited the number to one (or just a few) is so that you have time to read something unrelated to education. I love spending a day at the beach with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Ian Fleming novels. Find an author or a genre that you love and make sure to read some fiction or nonfiction just for fun. If you need ideas for a good reading list, check out Brian Smith’s blog post, “A Summer Reading List for Everyone." 

    • Take care of yourself. As teachers we spend all year giving of ourselves to help our students grow. During this summer take some time to take care of yourself! Get a little extra sleep, start and stick with a workout routine, eat good food, and relax by doing the things you love. I can’t wait to make my way back into my craft room this summer so I can make jewelry and scrapbook — two of my favorite hobbies that often take a back seat during the school year. Whatever you do this summer, do something you love and take advantage of the weeks we do get to relax and rejuvenate before the students return in the fall.

    I hope you all have a wonderful summer! I have loved getting to blog and chat with you this year and can’t wait to start up again in August. Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you plan to do to unwind this summer. For those of you already on break, congratulations on a great year! For those of you still running the home stretch, you can do it! Stay strong and enjoy these last days and weeks with your students. After all, they are the best part of our jobs! Have a great summer!

     

     

    As a teacher I guarantee that you have heard someone tell you that your job must be so easy because you get three months off each summer. While it’s true that we don’t have students during these vacation months, we teachers certainly work straight through June, July, and August. The toughest part of this dynamic is finding a healthy balance between work and play. Here are some tips for making the most of summertime both professionally and personally.

     

     

    Simplify your end-of-the-year classroom cleanup

    A classroom being cleaned for the summer. The first week of summer always sees me back in my classroom trying to reorganize so that it can receive a well-deserved deep clean from the custodial staff over the summer. When I first began teaching I would take everything off my bulletin boards, shelves, and desk, but I learned that I was only making my life more difficult come August. Now, it’s true that each school is different and your building may require you to do more or less cleaning than mine, but here’s what I have found to be the most useful means of simplifying my end-of-the-year cleanup:

    • Put up your back-to-school bulletin boards for next year before you leave this year. You can get everything set up the way you like it and then use old bulletin board paper you would normally recycle to cover your newly decorated boards until August. This helps to keep your new bulletin board design from fading and protects it from paint or wax that might fly around your room during cleaning. I found that my students love to help with this process, so I have them help me during the last few days of school. Now when I walk back into school in August my boards will be ready and waiting.

    • Put as many of your countertop materials as you can onto the shelves or into the cabinets below them. Cover the open shelves with leftover roll paper so your belongings are protected from the wax or water that might spray up during floor cleaning. By getting your things off the counters they will be protected during the summer and collect much less dust. In August you will just pull them out and put them right back on the counters where they belong.

    • Take a photograph of your room setup before you tear down. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can forget where you put that extra bookshelf or how best to configure desks. Having a picture of your room will make your life easier when you begin to set up again. Plus, if your custodial staff removes furniture from your room to clean during the summer, you can also leave them a copy of your picture to know where to put things back. My amazing school custodians are always so thankful when I give them my photo each year.

     

    Limit the work you bring home over the summer

    Books to read over the summer. We all have the best intentions of accomplishing a huge summer to-do list, but life always gets in the way. Instead of overwhelming yourself with your own homework, choose the two or three most important priorities and only bring those home. For me, I usually find that I am most productive with the following summer projects:

    • Select one professional development book you want to make sure you read during the summer. If you get around to reading more, great, but by choosing the most important book you’ll take some of the pressure off yourself to spend your whole summer reading work-related texts. This year I’m looking forward to reading Pam Allyn's and Ernest Morrell's Every Child a Super Reader.

    • Organize your electronic files at home. I spend all year downloading and saving a million resources to my computer and end up with so many files that I can’t even make sense of what I have. Over the summer I like to take my laptop outside and organize my downloads from the year. It is a good time to purge the things that I didn’t use and create organized folders for my favorite resources. If I have time, I even like to go back through the materials I created during the year and organize those as well. I always am so glad I did when August rolls around.

    • Prepare for the first week of school. As I shared in my blog post "Super Student Take-Home Binders," I provide each of my students with a binder to organize all of their papers for both home and school. I like to have these binders ready for the first day, so I prepare them over the summer. Each May the other first grade teachers and I send a note home to the kindergarten parents asking for $3 to cover the cost of supplies for the binders we’ll use the next year. Once we’ve collected the funds by the last day of school we can purchase the materials needed to make our binders over the summer. You’ll find me on summer evenings sitting on my family room floor with all of my binders, page protectors and folders spread out as I make my assembly line of binders while watching Netflix. It helps me not to feel rushed in the fall and gets me all ready for the first week of school. Even if you don’t have student binders to prepare, take some time over the summer to get your plans, copies and supplies ready for the first week of school. You’ll be amazed how relaxing it will be to go back to school with one week already planned and prepped.

     

    Take time for you!

    The most important recommendation I can make for a successful summer is to make sure you take time to relax and rejuvenate. These months off serve to help both students and teachers unwind and prepare themselves to start off strong in the fall. Whether you spend time with your own children, take a trip with your spouse, or just relax and enjoy the company of friends, it is vital that you foster relationships during your vacation that feed your spirit. If you are not very good at relaxing and need a few ideas, try one of these:

    • Take a vacation or staycation. Sometimes we all just need a break from the norm. Whether that means escaping to a tropical paradise or just exploring your own town, make sure to hit pause on life and have some fun. My husband and I make it a priority each year to take one vacation so that we can enjoy each other’s company and try something new. Some years our trips take us to new places and other times we just make a list of the things we keep meaning to do in our own area. It could be a new restaurant you want to try, a park you haven’t gotten to explore or even a day trip to a nearby city for a change of scenery. This summer take some time for you!

    • Read a just-for-fun book. I know I already said that you should read one professional book over the summer, but the reason I limited the number to one (or just a few) is so that you have time to read something unrelated to education. I love spending a day at the beach with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Ian Fleming novels. Find an author or a genre that you love and make sure to read some fiction or nonfiction just for fun. If you need ideas for a good reading list, check out Brian Smith’s blog post, “A Summer Reading List for Everyone." 

    • Take care of yourself. As teachers we spend all year giving of ourselves to help our students grow. During this summer take some time to take care of yourself! Get a little extra sleep, start and stick with a workout routine, eat good food, and relax by doing the things you love. I can’t wait to make my way back into my craft room this summer so I can make jewelry and scrapbook — two of my favorite hobbies that often take a back seat during the school year. Whatever you do this summer, do something you love and take advantage of the weeks we do get to relax and rejuvenate before the students return in the fall.

    I hope you all have a wonderful summer! I have loved getting to blog and chat with you this year and can’t wait to start up again in August. Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you plan to do to unwind this summer. For those of you already on break, congratulations on a great year! For those of you still running the home stretch, you can do it! Stay strong and enjoy these last days and weeks with your students. After all, they are the best part of our jobs! Have a great summer!

     

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