It’s that time of year when people offer ideas and advice about what teachers should do over the summer months. Many of them involve reading educational books, taking in conferences, blogging and other such activities related to education. These are all great activities, I believe that summer is a time when teachers need to refocus and refresh and not only on education. With that in mind, here are 8 things that I believe teachers should do over the summer.
1. Develop a Routine – Teachers often spend a great part of their year constantly on the go planning, assessing, coordinating and getting others organized. Often the daily routines are anything but routine. During the summer is great time to re-establish a daily routine. There are a number of great articles about the importance of having a routine and sticking with it as often as possible. Developing a routine now, at a time when life isn’t quite so hectic, gives one time to help establish positive habits which can continue into the school year. By now we’ve all read about the negative effects of sitting too much. Summer is a great time to establish a healthy work out routine and develop it into a habit that you can stick to for the upcoming school year. Take some time to explore different routines and how such routines allow people to be more creative, have more energy and be more effective at what they are doing.
2. Visit museums, parks, art galleries – take time to explore. Places like museums, parks and art galleries are wonderful places to see how people create and express themselves creatively. Don’t worry about taking pictures or what you can take back with you but get lost in the wonder of what you experience.
3. Read non-educational material – yes, read educational material. But also read non-educational material. If you check the Summer Reading page, there are many great suggestions for non-educational reading both fiction and non-fiction. I would suggest:
Multipliers – by Liz Wiseman. How do we get the best out of the people around us? Great insights and practical ideas that will help you not only as a teacher but as a person to begin to adopt the habits and mindset of a Multiplier
The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey – This is a great book about how Trust is essential for all that we do. It provides ideas and insights about how we can develop trusting relationships with the people around us.
Die Empty by Todd Henry – This is a must read for anyone who wants to make changes in their lives, make an impact on the world around them and give their best each day. Definitely something that all teachers should read.
Make Waves by Patti Johnson – if you are wanting to make change, this is a book that will give you insights and ideas about making and riding the waves of change.
4. Get outside – Teachers often spend a great deal of their time inside during the school year. I know that there would be times when the only time I was outside was for recess supervision, entering/exiting the school and transporting my own kids from place to place. Sometimes, during the winter, I didn’t see the sun except through the window. During the summer, it’s important to spend time outdoors.
5. Enjoy a sunset and sunrise – Teachers often spend their days at full speed with little time to pause. Take time to get up to watch the sun come up and enjoy just being able to watch it. The same goes for a sunset. Find a place where you can watch the sun slowly slip over the horizon. It reminds us to slow down and enjoy the little things in the world around us.
6. Walk around the community – I recommend that teachers walk around their community often to see what is in the community. Stop into shops and stores, browse and see what is in the community. If you have lived in a community for some time or it is a small community, you might be surprised by who has moved in or what has changed through the year. My wife and I would often just walk around the small towns where we lived and talk to people working in their yards or notice how things had changed.
7. Read about creativity/Learn something new – I recommend teachers read specifically about creativity and being creative, how creative people find inspiration, develop habits to be creative and continue to be creative. This will not only help them to develop their own creativity but also give them ideas for supporting the creativity of their students and the other teachers with whom they work. One book that I found very helpful was Become an Idea Machine by Claudia Azula Altucher. Learning something new goes along with this. Whether it’s trying to juggle, learning about a new hobby or something else, challenge yourself with something new and different – be a learner.
8. You Pick – Do something, anything but don’t be consumed with connecting, planning, assessment or educational reading. Yes, it is important. For many, education is their vocation, spending time doing education related activities is just how they spend their time. But everyone needs to take time to pursue other interests and develop routines that will support them through their lifetime. A work life balance is not the same for everyone but we need to be aware of how it affects us.
No, none of these are earth-shattering or revolutionary. However, my experience is that many people will talk about how teachers should spend their time during the summer on education related activities so much so that many teachers feel overwhelmed and, dare I say, guilty about taking time away. If, in fact, you do follow what some suggest, there will be little time for family, friends or yourself which is an imbalance. Yes it is important to improve and grow as a professional but it’s more important that you grow and develop as a person. Yes conferences are great for more than just education but are you also taking time to meet and talk with non-educators? Where and when? Yes you should read educational material but are you also aware of what is happening in other areas? Can you talk about non-educational writers?
A Holistic Approach
I found that taking time to assess how things are in various aspects of my life has helped me to continually reflect in a more holistic manner. The Wheel of Life is a tool that has many forms. The basic idea is that you look at the different areas of your life and rate them to see where you might need some refocusing. I use it as a checkpoint. Naturally there are times when you need to focus on specific areas but if you find yourself spending a great deal of time neglecting certain aspects of your life it may be a sign you need to do some self-reflection and re-assess your routines.
Developing healthy and sustainable routines is important yet often these are not reflected in our systems of work and learning. I’m reminded of the saying “It’s not what you say but what you do” because often we talk about the importance of many things but our actions don’t reflect what we say and children are influenced by the actions they observe.
How can teachers be more conscious of developing healthy routines in their classrooms?
Are your actions and words in harmony?
How do you define yourself? How do people around you see you? Have you asked?
What others things should teachers do during the summer?