Friday, June 11, 2010

Making the Most of Your Summer

Ah, it is almost summertime. Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy your time off, and yes, you should take some time off to relax! After all, you've made it through a school year and survived. Although some of you may have chosen to teach summer school or have a summer job, you still need to take at least a week or two off for a break. Otherwise, you'll be worn out and exhausted before the new school year begins. So, how can you enjoy your summer and also be ready for the new school year? Below are a few tips and ideas to help you get started.

  1. Take a much needed break. Take the first week after you get out of school to simply relax and recuperate after a long school year of teaching. Go do something fun, vegge out on the couch, go see a movie or two, hang with your friends, and lie in the sun. If you had a particularly stressful school year, you might think about taking two weeks to recuperate.
  2. Catch up on your reading. After the first week or two of reading adventure novels, romance novels, or magazines, you might change up your reading material and catch up on some professional books. You know the ones, they looked informative and interesting but you just didn't have the time to sit and read them? If you don't have any collecting dust on your shelves, go to and see what's out there. Think about a particular issue that challenged you throughout the school year or a concept/strategy you'd like to implement in your classroom. There are many fantastic books out there on classroom management, differentiated learning, brain-based classrooms, motivating students, positive discipline strategies and more. In my website, I have a list of authors that you might consider reading. They are organized by topic so that you can easily find an author on a specific subject.
  3. Attend a summer conference. Education conferences are more than just learning opportunities, they are fun! You get to travel to a new city, experience the food and culture of that city, and learn some neat teaching strategies as well. If you go with some friends from school, you can also enjoy good company as well. I know that I always come back from an education conference fired up to try many different ideas. The best part about going to a summer conference is that you have the time when you get home to think through how you'll implement those ideas in your classroom.
  4. Attend a professional workshop. You may not have the time or the funds to go away for a summer education conference, so try attending a professional workshop on a topic of interest to you. Again, it is nice to attend a workshop in the summer because you have the time to actually think through the information and figure out how you plan to implement it in your classroom. Usually when we have a staff development during the school year, we are already so busy with everything else, there is little time to actually implement any new ideas.
  5. Review your curriculum and lesson ideas. Some of you are lucky enough to have a district that writes your curriculum and gives you daily lesson plan ideas. Others are not so lucky. Either way, take some time to look at the overall plan of what you teach during the year. Are there any areas that where you can be more creative? Do you see any boring places from last year that you can spice up with a different kind of activity? The summer is the best time to think about your lesson ideas because you have so much time. Once school starts, it will be a mad dash and a daily challenge to get everything done that needs to be done. Take the time while you have it to really think through what you want to do next year in your lessons.
  6. Reflect, Collect, and Plan. Take some time to reflect on what went well and what didn't during this past school year. Collect your thoughts and collect different ideas and strategies for dealing with those issues that were challenges. Then take some time to plan out what you will do next year when you get a fresh start. Brainstorm ideas and put them on paper. Daydream about what you will say and how you will say it. Daydreaming is easy to do when you are floating in a pool or lying out in the sun! **This is also a perfect time to create a classroom vision (see Inspiring Teachers Weekly Teaching Tip Newsletter archives for June 11, 2010).

Lastly, don't try to do it all at once. Mix in some fun along with these strategies for professional improvement. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" after all! Do a little work and then have a little fun. Having the summer to learn and play is one of the few perks we get as teachers. It is a time to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves. And although you may not believe it now, by the time August rolls around again you'll be ready to get back into your classroom and excited about starting a new school year. Until then, pack your bags and make the most of your summer!

Original column found on Education-world by Emma McDonald. Reprinted with permission.

**Statement added for this blog post.