The end of the school year can be bittersweet. Yes, you have the whole summer to look forward to, but it’s tough to say goodbye to the students you’ve spent all year with. You might be feeling burned out after a hectic year, too, and wondering how you can do it all again starting in just a few short months. We’ve got some to share, so read on!
Tips for Teachers to Stay Inspired Over the Summer
Inspiration doesn’t just always just find us – sometimes we have to work at it. Try the following things to help you stay inspired over the summer so you can come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to give your best to your students next fall. Because they need you!
1. Prioritize Self-Care
It’s so easy to slip into bad health habits during the school year when there’s so much to do and never enough time to do it. Take advantage of the slower pace of summer by prioritizing yourself and your health. This means getting the sleep your body needs, exercising regularly, eating well, reducing stress levels, and attending to your mental health.
Reflect on the Past School Year
Journaling has many positive mental health benefits! Before too much time has passed, sit down with pen and paper and write about your experiences this past year. What were some highlights? Lowlights? Did you overcome any challenges? What did you learn that made you a better teacher? Where might you improve? These are just some ideas to get your pen moving and ideas flowing, but you can write – or rant! – about anything that comes to mind. Treat yourself to a beautiful notebook and a great pen, too.
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Set Goals for Next Year
Writing goals down is an important step toward realizing them. Set personal and professional goals for the upcoming school year and outline the steps you can take to achieve them. You can do this at any time, but you might find it’s an even more powerful exercise after reflecting on the school year.
Connect with Other Educators
Meet in person with other teachers in your area or join one (or more) of the many online teacher-focused forums to connect with other educators. It’s a great way to share ideas and resources, get answers to your questions and concerns, and even just have a sympathetic ear from someone who can truly relate to what you’re going through.
Taking courses over the summer is a great way to keep up your enthusiasm for getting back into the classroom. Start with the continuing education units or credits as required by your state and/or school.
But consider topics that go beyond your CEUs, too. Are there skills that would make you a better communicator or educator, like public speaking or conflict resolution? Is there an area of your subject area (history, math, music, art) where you want to go deeper, so you have more to share with your students? Look for local or online courses or lectures that inspire you. There’s so much to learn, and you don’t have to limit yourself to CEUs.
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There are countless books, articles, and blogs on education and pedagogy. Ask for some recommendations from other teachers on books that helped and inspired them the most to make your curated reading list.
And don’t forget to read for fun! Make it a point to read for pleasure this summer. For you, that might mean a non-fiction book on an obscure topic in your field or a brainless beach read. Whatever your jam is, reading for pleasure can recharge your mental and emotional batteries.
Experiment with New Technologies
Gone are the days of the chalkboard, whiteboard, and projector. With today’s technology – not to mention wildly tech-savvy students – teaching is a whole new ball game. It can be intimidating to bring new tech into the classroom, but summertime gives you a chance to research and try things out on your own time to see what resonates and what doesn’t. Explore innovative ed-tech tools that can enhance your teaching practice, help with classroom management, and make learning more enjoyable for your students.
Stock Up on Inspiring Supplies
As a kid, getting fun new school supplies was one of the most exciting things about back-to-school season. Who says you can’t enjoy the same fun as an adult? Picking out an awesome academic planner, for example, in a color or pattern you love, will bring you joy every time you look at it, all year long.
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Unleash Your Creativity
Delve into painting, photography, creative writing, knitting, beading, woodwork, music, or anything else that tickles your fancy. You can take a class or just dabble on your own. Are you terrible at art? Great! All the more reason to take a life drawing class or enjoy a sip-n-paint event. It’s not about being the best at something, but about using a different part of your brain and doing something different and fun.
Take a Trip
Travel can take many forms. Whether you travel far to explore new-to-you locations or choose to recharge your batteries on a beach vacation, travel can broaden your perspective and inspire you to bring fresh ideas into the classroom.
Don’t count out travel this summer, even if money is tight. You can find some amazing deals, including teacher-only deals, that can turn your dream trip into a reality.
Try Backyard Tourism
You don’t need to go halfway around the world to see or learn something new; there’s a lot to enjoy and discover nearby. Check out your state’s national parks, famous scenic byways, and nature trails for great outdoor adventures that are waiting for you in your backyard. Or make it a goal to check out the quirky sites in your state, like the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota, from Roadside America. Prefer something more educational? Check out the National Historic Landmarks (listed by state) near you and explore some of your state’s history. There’s so much to see, and a whole summer to see it in!
Volunteer or do community work this summer by getting involved in local organizations or projects that align with your values or passions. Maybe you already have a worthy cause in mind that you want to devote your time to. If not, look for an opportunity nearby on a site like VolunteerMatch. Giving back can provide a sense of purpose and rejuvenate your spirit, and it sets a good example for your students.