Tips to Balance Work and Play This Summer
All teachers know there is very little “break” in summer break—professional development, summer school and sports, household projects, family events—the days are packed! With a few simple planning tips, we can strike a balance between our personal and professional goals and make the most of these precious summer days.
Focus on Positive Habits
Perhaps the most important professional goal you can tackle this summer is taking care of yourself – after all, you are your students’ greatest influence for success! Focusing on building positive habits is one way to do this. The old myth suggests that it takes 21 days to build a habit, but research suggests the average time is closer to 66 days. The good news is if you start building healthy habits now, they will be much more automatic by the time schools rolls around. For example, if you decide that next school year you’d like to work out three times a week or pre-plan your weekly menus to include more nutritious meals, start this month and your new behavior will feel like a normal part of day-to-day life just in time for the school year to begin.
Schedule Your Plans by Time, Not Task
It is always tempting at the start of summer to make a long list of all you’d like to accomplish, including planning new curriculum, taking new courses, or catching up on your reading lists. To make sure you can realistically complete your goals, set up a summer schedule by time, not task. For example, if you want to rewrite your unit on The Great Gatsby, get out your calendar and write in how many days and hours you will commit to this goal. If you have trouble relaxing in the summer months, consider scheduling deserved rest periods, too! Research shows that when we schedule by time, we are more realistic about how much we can accomplish, and we also know when to quit!
Collaborate with Colleagues
For many teachers, collaboration is motivating and rewarding, but it can be hard to find the time for these connections during the school year. Even if you typically spend your summers away from school, try to schedule at least one meeting with a colleague or two this summer. Allow time for socializing and discussion of just one or two professional goals you share. The opportunity to share your ideas with other teachers can help you feel more positive and connected about the work ahead.
Read like a Student
Take the time to read at least one book that is popular with your students or find one that you think students will love. Tip: Your local librarian can help you find your perfect match! Instead of thinking about how you might use the book in your lessons, just enjoy it. Not everything needs to be a teachable moment, and sometimes knowing just a little bit about a popular book or character can help you connect with students in the first days of school. Oh, and don’t forget to read like a grown-up, too. Everyone deserves at least one beach book!
Even though the summer days seem short, we can make the most of this time with just a few simple planning strategies. This way, we can return to school feeling refreshed and fully prepared to engage our students.