It’s almost that time again—you’re finishing up end-of-year testing, facilitating report cards, and bracing for the heat. Your students are excited too. After all, you won’t see these walls again for two months.
Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Every educator’s answer is likely different. What’s important is for every educator to take advantage of summer break to decompress and recenter.
You deserve time away from your classroom so that you can come back with fresh ideas and enthusiasm to empower your learners to reach their potential. Here are just a few ways educators can enjoy summer break:
Reconnect with your creativity
Whether you’re finding a good metaphor for a mathematics concept or helping your students create interactive presentations, educators are inherently creative people. At the same time, we know there are likely times during the school year you feel so juiced out you’re not sure you’ll ever have an innovative thought again!
How can you use the summer to get back in touch with your creative self?
- Learn a new skill or hobby you don’t have time for during the year. Have you always wanted to try archery? Learn how to code? Play the ukulele? It doesn’t need to have anything to do with the subject(s) you teach, just something that brings you joy and enhances your free time.
- Do a craft. Try getting in touch with your inner student: Break out the posterboard, magazines, markers, and glue, and do an art project. You can create a vision board, design your own pet rock…or of course, ask your coworkers in the art department for some ideas 😉
- Use an adult coloring book. When was the last time you colored, just for you? Feel free to draw outside the lines—it is summer, after all—but you can also take away the guesswork with an adult coloring book. They’ve grown in popularity in the last few years because coloring is a great way to relieve stress. No need to share with or show anyone.
Take what you need
The definition of self-care is highly individual to each person, but it can be anything that helps you take care of yourself in a way that feels good. The important thing is to do what you want now you don’t have to be on top of an entire class schedule!
- Get in some extra ZZZs. How much would you love to sleep in during the school year? The summer is a great time to hit snooze or take a nap in the sun whenever you feel like it, without any remorse. Plus, it’s only fair you should start the next school year well rested.
- Take a long lunch. So often during the school year, you have to fit your lunch break between lesson planning and last-minute grading. This summer, channel your inner Frenchman and luxuriate in an hours-long lunch (or five).
- Upgrade your supplies. Back-to-school shopping helps students look forward to the start of the next school year…but what about educators? From a new desk organizer to a joke grading pen, consider anything that will help you feel more enthusiastic about returning to class. That said, we know teachers tend to spend too much of their own money on supplies. Ask administrators about any available funds or look into a site like Supply a Teacher.
Find some peace
In contrast to the chaotic school year, summer is the time to prioritize yourself. That can sometimes mean doing things completely differently than you would when you’re your educator-self.
- Banish your phone. Though we often feel like there’s not enough time in the day, the average American manages to spend nearly 3 hours a day on our phones, which can give way to feelings of stress and disconnection. So try out what it feels like to leave your phone in the other room for just a little while and be silent and present. This is great practice for a weekend away, a walk in the woods, or home meditation.
- Get outside. Your biology coworker is right: Seeing green is good for you. That means being in nature—and if there’s none around—relaxing in a place with a view of the trees outside or listening to a soundtrack of birdsong can help you feel less stressed and like your job more! (Yes, your supervisor will love that.)
- Dig into your reading list. Say goodbye to Judy Moody and Captain Underpants and get some of your own uninterrupted reading time in. We won’t judge your book by its cover—from beach reads to biographies, reading is a great way to relax.
Make space for joy
As an emotion, joy shouldn’t just be reserved for the sound of the ending bell (but we get that too). Summer is a great time to start up a joy practice you can keep with you year-round.
- Do anything that makes you laugh. Life can be tough, but it helps to find the levity in it. Whether that’s browsing relatable TikToks made by fellow educators, watching a comedy special, or using your classroom experiences to write your very first standup routine, laughter is a proven and powerful stress reliever for any time of the year.
- Stay active. Though you don’t have to wake up at 5am again until September, getting regular exercise can help you build healthy habits for body and mind even when you return to class. Everything from walking to weight reps to swimming can boost your energy, allowing you to show up more consistently for all the wonderful and weird moments of life.
- Do nothing sometimes, too. Sometimes, zoning out is the healthiest thing to do. Give yourself permission to just enjoy the quiet, without all the shouts of, “Ms. Weiser!”
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