Happy summer vacation break to those of you who work in education!
Another school year is over and, if your school system is like mine in Ontario, the break is in full swing. In my experience working in education, the start of the break often brings polarizing thoughts of:
What are we going to do next year let’s start planning.
I don’t want to think about school until the end of the summer.
Regardless of where you fall between these two polarizing thoughts, one thing is certain. Educators need to use the break time to rest and rejuvenate so they can reengage fully when the next term starts.
Teaching is not a job, but a lifestyle. When you’re teaching, you’re “on” intellectually and emotionally for the majority of the day, responding to student needs, planning and assessing curriculum, collaborating with colleagues, and communicating with parents/guardians. Although you can focus on the classroom, in the world of digital learning platforms and educational solutions, the classroom extends from the traditional “class period” to other aspects of the day.
Here are some of strategies to manage the end of the term workload, make the most of your break, and be proactive about burnout going into the next school term.
Organize. Don’t let last year’s mess be at the front of next year’s start-up. Invest the time to organize all paperwork and clean-up your digital files. Go through all of your resources and get rid of anything that isn’t relevant anymore. Scan paperwork and upload to digital drives with proper titles so you can search and access the files easily.
Reflect. Spend the time reflecting on the highlights, successes and challenges of the year. Complete a start-stop-continue for next year and place that information in a place where you will see it when you start planning for your next term.
Unplug. Once you have completed the first two tasks, completely unplug from school. Give yourself some time to engage in non-school related activities. Read. Connect with friends and family. Find your new favourite ice cream flavour. Take advantage of the summer weather. Learn a new hobby. Re-engage with old hobbies. Remember: an educator is one of the roles that you play in your life and that role is enhanced by all of the other roles that you play in your life.
E-Mail Boundaries. Set yourself a summer e-mail schedule and stick to it. Communicate that boundary to the world through the e-mail automatic response feature. Stick to your boundaries.
Schedule. If you must plan in the summer, make yourself a strict schedule so planning doesn’t take over your whole summer. Give yourself three or four days and mark them on the calendar as “planning days.” Prioritize. Don’t procrastinate and use those planning days as actual planning days. Remember: planning during the break might relieve some stress in the fall BUT you are doing these plans without meeting your classroom learners. Think big picture but be flexible and responsive to the urgent learning needs that arise when you first meet your students at the beginning of the new term.
Pedagogy Forward Professional Development. Instead of picking five million books to read about educational pedagogy, pick one topic based on your own learning needs from what you experienced previous term in the classroom. Develop your own summer genius hour project. Engage in deep learning that you can apply when you’re back in the classroom at the beginning of next term. Actively seek out those connections and record them. Keep asking: how will this professional development inquiry push your pedagogy forward and impact the urgent student needs in your classroom when you’re back teaching in the new term?
Self-Care. This is important throughout the whole school year. In the summer, keep up your self-care strategies and take the time to do what you need to do to rest, relax and rejuvenate. This will allow you to come back to the new school year ready to respond to student urgent learning needs without sacrificing your own wellness.
Last, but not least, remember that you earned your break and you should enjoy it doing whatever you need to rest, rejuvenate and re-engage with all of the energy and passion you brought to your first year as an educator.