Picture it: a teacher hovering over a lukewarm microwavable meal while making copies and simultaneously grading this week’s essays. It’s summer, so that overworked teacher is surely relaxing poolside somewhere, right? Wrong. While many think teachers “get summers off,” most of us are extremely busy planning lessons or attending professional development sessions and conferences. Here’s a totally usable to-do list for teachers to make summer “vacation” productive and relaxing.
Start a summer morning ritual
School mornings are stressful, but summer mornings don’t have to be quite as hectic. Start a new, slow morning ritual that allows for some calm, some reflection and one that doesn’t involve packing three tote bags and spilling hot coffee on your shirt.
Seriously, read those books on your nightstand
Take some time to finally read those books on your nightstand. Stay up late and finish that chapter. Hit the beach with your best fun read. Or, stay in your PJ’s and read cozily on the sofa!
Get organized and clean your space
It’s been a busy year. Those piles and dust bunnies need attention. Take a day to get your living space in order. Turn on some great music, dance, clean, and start your summer off with a sparkling space! You’ll feel so much better.
Schedule your lesson planning time and stick to it
It’s true. You do have to plan for next year. Those units don’t plan themselves! But there’s no need to lose all your summer days to lesson planning. Setting aside scheduled time throughout the summer for school work helps maintain the work-life summer balance — and saves you from the dreaded pre-fall scramble. Stick to your schedule of work time, use a checklist, take a deep breath and get things done! Then, get back to living your best summer life!
Create a personal mission statement for next school year
Who are you as an educator? What do you believe in? What do you want to accomplish? After you’ve just finished a school year, reflect and develop your own mission statement for next year. Keep your mission statement somewhere easily accessible and ensure that you live by it, referring back to it throughout the year.
Challenge yourself to grow as an educator
Many teachers attend professional development training or conferences during the summer. Think about what you’d like to work on for next year and find at least one PD, class, or learning experience to participate in this summer. You definitely deserve a break, but just like the kids, some learning and growth over the summer is important.
Reconnect with friends
Chances are, there were times during the school year that you were too tired to socialize on weekends. Summer is the ideal time to get out there with your friends for a little fun. The Harvard Women’s Health Watch notes that “dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” So make a date to catch up, laugh, and let go!
Reconnect with family
The school year is busy for families: school, activities, work, and running a household. Summer should be all about reconnecting with family. Have some family dinners, take a day trip together, or chat over some iced tea or lemonade. Slow down and spend quality time with the people you love most.
Nourish your whole self
Scholastic suggests breaking your summer to-do list into four categories: self-care, personal growth, school prep, and professional growth. This is an awesome way to ensure your summer months are both restorative and productive.
Make time for that hobby
As teachers, we get so used to accomplishing everything we have to do that we can forget what we love to do. Make time for your hobbies — even if you have to literally schedule them in. Knit that scarf. Learn to play guitar. Take up yoga. Whatever your interest is, indulge in it!
“Nature isn’t a miracle cure for diseases,” says The Wildlife Trust’s Lucy McRobert. “But by interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result.” Studies have shown that time spent in nature reduces depression and increases feelings of happiness. Educators spend much of the school year indoors, so get out there this summer and feel the sun on your skin, the sand in your toes, the wind in your hair — and breathe it all in.