Once school is out, teachers generally need a little time away from school and schoolwork before getting back to thinking about and starting any preparations for the upcoming year. What's your motivation, teachers, to get back in gear--low gear, perhaps--and get some summer work done?
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Like many others in this thread, I catch up on my reading. Sometimes it's for pleasure (the Bentley Little paperback and Harlan Ellison collection next to me now), and sometimes it's planning for next year (Beowulf and Persepolis are calling to me next). I also travel & complete all the chores I couldn't do during the year. This summer I've bought a house, moved, had my wisdom teeth removed, and have been tattooed. All in all, quite a packed few months.
I spend this time trying to work on things for myself -- whether it is writing, editing, reading, taking classes -- I try to make myself better. I approach every summer with one major question that drives my daily motivation: What do I always wish I can do during the school year? Usually my answer pertains to something that involves improving on something else -- teaching a new book, exercising, visiting a museum, etc. Overall, I do NOT allow myself to go anywhere near actual lesson plan writing until August! Prep work, such as reading, can be done in July, but absolutely NO WRITING LESSON PLANS -- Why? Because that April burnout will then show up in December!
My district's summers are relatively short (7-8 weeks) because we are on a modified year-round schedule, so I'm very stingy with my time. I try to get some inservice credits out of the way, but other than that I try to do as little school work as possible. I read as much as I can, visit with family as much as I can, and rest as much as I can. I don't even begin planning for classes until the week we go back.
Summer is definitely the time to give some attention to all the area of life that get neglected during the school year. The biggest thing for me is getting a full night's sleep on a regular basis. I enjoy the feeling of not having to do anything at any particular time, but I still feel I need to be productive. You will frequently see me at a coffee house with my laptop working on one project or another.
School is never that far from my thoughts, as I usually take at least one or two classes over the summer. In my relaxed frame of mind, I actually enjoy a little lesson planning.
My response is very similar to #9 - I recharge my batteries by ploughing through all the books I have been dying to read and have accumulated through the previous year! As an English teacher that is what I need to do to be re-inspired to face the coming year...
Summer is often repair time: repairing relationships that have been neglected because one has worked day and night during the school year, repairing one's health that also gets neglected by not eating right or exercising enough, and repairing one's battered soul, wounded in the battlefield of bureaucracy.
I try my best to use the summer time to reflect on what went right and what went wrong. I need about a week or ten days of distance, and then I try to enter this mental realm where I can engage in pure reflection and consider the elements that need to be replicated, how they need to be duplicated, and how success was achieved. I also engage in the much more difficult task which is examining what went wrong and where I ended up coming up short. This is tough, but I think I need it in order to be more effective the following year.
I actually get to wonder aimlessly through Barnes and Noble, and KNOW that I actually have time to read (in between yard work,napping in the sun, and just plain hangin' out). I do a little planning over the summer, usually working on a unit that I've been thinking about, and I take time to write. Usually, by the end of summer, I'm tired of the lazy routine and am recharged and ready for a new year. I hope it's the same this year.
I read the many books I've added to my bedside table throughout the year (including books recommended by my students), garden and put up veggies for the winter months, travel (I usually take a group of students overseas every summer...it's a cross between travel for education's sake and travel for pure enjoyment. They can actually opt to do extra work to earn an elective credit), take care of the farm animals, camp, play sports and watch my children play sports, and about three weeks before the new school year is set to begin, I plan.
I agree with the other posts that suggest summer is a time to relax and finish all the non-school work that gets neglected for the other ten months of the year. I like to travel, and I'll get a few nice trips in before the school year begins. The off months will also give me some time to read a few new novels as well as some short stories I may be able to use in the upcoming year. By the end of the summer, I'm usually ready to begin again.
I think I work harder in the summer than during the year - I have two children under 5! But I will say that being home all day (while tiring in a different way) is always a blessing that makes returning to school in the Fall very difficult.
One thing I'm loving about this summer however, is staying in touch with students and developing relationships outside of the classroom. It is a unique opportunity for me and I'm loving it.
Having my summer off is what lets me go full tilt from August till May. It is time I take care of stuff around the house, docs/vets appts., check out the car and things like that. If I didn't have my summer to veg out somewhat, I don't know that I could take the intensity of the school year. I worked in biochem research labs for a long time, and you could leave it at work when you left. Teaching is not like that at all. And there are a few minor details I have to do during summer, but mostly....not :)
When school lets out in June, I make these plans to go back to the school and work during the summer, plan my lessons, and reorganize my files. Alas, it's July, and I have not stepped foot in my classroom. I have visited family, taken trips, read books that I wanted to read, watched the World Cup, played golf instead.
But I don't necessarily think that is a bad thing. It happens every summer. But when I start back in August, I have so much more energy. As the previous posts have indicated, we need time to recharge our batteries. During the academic year, teaching is always on my mind. I am thinking of the papers to grade and lessons to plan, stressing over the progress or lack of progress my students have made so far. I find if I completely let go for a few weeks during the summer that I can pour myself more fully into my work when school resumes. I get out of the summer mode pretty quickly when I return to my classroom in August.
Teaching is such an all-encompassing job. I don't think people realize. We tend to put in all the hours of a full time job somewhere else, we just do it in 9 months instead of 12. So for me it's important to really take some time off. I don't go in to work, I don't think about work until I do some things for me, catch up on sleep, get out into the mountains, do some writing. That way I can recharge the creative batteries a bit and start the next year in the right frame of mind. Usually about the first week of August my brain will take me back to teaching and I know I'm ready.
I spend a lot of time over the summer working around the house, doing yard work, hiking, traveling and reading--things that I don't have time for during the school year. So by the time the school year comes around, I am ready to go back to work. I try to stay away from school and thinking about school during the summer. About two weeks before school starts, I am ready to start preparing for the next school year.
I try to relax over the summer. I find that when I spend my summer relaxed, I am more motivated when it comes time to get back into work mode. When it is time to get thinking about the new school year, I prioritize what I need to get done. I put things in order of importance and gets those things done first. Getting things done ahead of time is motivation for me.
During the summer I have spent quality time in my garden. While I am working outdoors I often take the time to reflect upon the previous school year, what worked, what didn't work, and I ponder new ideas and techniques to try when school starts back in a couple of weeks. I also take the time to complete my lesson plans for the upcoming school year.
Summertime for me is a time for reflection on how I can be better for the next school year and a time for learning new things that I can bring to my classroom and to my students. I spend the summers traveling, exploring new adventures, reading up on new information, etc., then update my curriculum to include the new things I have learned. I teach science, so there is always new discoveries, new learnings, etc. Each summer I can't wait to share with my students what I learned over the summer!
My summer vacation plans are to read, read and read! I have some napping and yard work plans in between the chapters, but planning on reenergizing until it a couple weeks before school starts up again!
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