Woo hoo! Is there any better feeling than leaving the school building on that last workday? I think not! But, if you’re like I was during my first few years, the glow of summer wears off quickly. Suddenly, it’s been a month, you’re sleeping too long, and nothing is getting done. The worst is getting to the end of summer only to feel like you’ve wasted it. In this post, I want to give away some tips for any teacher on summer break who wants to make the most of their time off.
Tip #1: Plan Your Days
I know that the last thing you might want to do on your summer break is sit down and create a schedule. After all, part of the glory of summer is that–briefly–our lives are not dictated by a bell.
But humans also thrive on routine and throwing all schedules to the wind leaves us lost. You don’t have to map out every minute of every day, but you should carefully consider what you want to accomplish during the summer.
I recommend starting with your sleep schedule. During the school year, I wake up every day at 4:00 am. By Friday, I am completely wiped out. So, during the summer, I’ll set my alarms for 5:00 (I know, but hey–that’s sleeping in for me!).
When you wake up isn’t nearly as important as making sure you get enough sleep and that your wake up time is consistent.
Some of your time might be dictated by others. If you have to get the kids to summer camp every day at 8:00 and pick them up at 3:00, some of your day is out of your control. But you can certainly plan what you’re going to do in between those times.
Everyone’s summers look different. You might suddenly become a stay-at-home parent. Many of us take on a second job, so we’re still working.
Try to schedule your days to include adequate sleep and time for your priorities.
Tip #2: Include Time to Rest
I’ve already mentioned making sure that you’re getting enough sleep. It really can’t be overstated. Most adults are simply not getting enough, and I think that goes double for teachers!
But after you’ve included time for physical rest, be sure to rest your mind, also. Especially as we’re emerging from teaching in a pandemic, the school year has left us all frazzled mentally.
Make sure to schedule time for guilty pleasure TV. (I’m enjoying re-watching The Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time….) Read a book that isn’t for school at all (maybe it’s too inappropriate for school?!). Find some time to try a new skill.
Vegging out is totally part of summer break. Don’t feel guilty about it. Self-care is important.
After all, a little extra sleep is definitely one of the perks of being a teacher on summer break.
Just stick to tip #1–schedule your days–so that relaxing is an intentional part of your summer and you don’t accidentally become a full-on couch potato.
Tip #3: Prioritize Relationships
As you’re planning and scheduling your days, be sure to reach out to friends and family that might go neglected during the school year.
I have a lot of friends that don’t work a typical 9-5; seeing them during the school year is nearly impossible. During summer, however, I can be more flexible and make time to see them. As a teacher on summer break, you can meet your loved ones where they’re at.
Reach out to those friends and family that you’d like to reconnect with during the last couple of weeks of school and suggest some coffee dates. If your friends have dogs or kids, maybe meeting at a park is another way to catch up too.
Don’t go another summer, though, thinking that you should have really caught up with that one person. Reach out and–most importantly–make a plan and schedule it.
Tip #4: Lesson Plan a Little Bit Each Week
Look, none of us really want to lesson plan over the summer. But you know it’ll be so much worse if you don’t do anything. Help Future You by planning next year little by little.
Schedule a time each week to sit down and make some progress on your lesson plans. Maybe one week you pick your standards, the next your texts, and the next your assessments.
If your district has a strict curriculum that you must follow, spend some time familiarizing yourself with those expectations and documents.
I have a great resource here for how I plan a whole novel study quickly.
Another way to get your lesson planning done and over with is to buy some done-for-you units on Teachers Pay Teachers. I actually do my back-to-school TpT shopping in May and June and then spend summer mapping out my new lessons on a calendar and creating whatever I need to fill in the gaps.
For example, if you know you have to teach an entire Creative Writing class, you could spend all summer creating everything from scratch. Or, you could grab my done-for-you Creative Writing Class right here.
Whatever you’re teaching, there’s probably some TpT resources out there that can help you out. If nothing else, definitely check out the free resources!
You’ll feel so much better come the fall when you know that your year is planned and ready to rock!
Tip #5: Create Routines That Will Last Into the School Year
Think about all the little annoyances that bother you throughout the school year. Is it struggling to pack a lunch in the morning? The inability to ever find a teaching outfit you like? Hating those extra ten pounds you’ve gained doing distance learning?
The summer is the time to deal with these little problems. Tackle them now with routines that will work with your teaching schedule come fall.
For example, if you rush around every morning packing a lunch, try using the summer to get into the habit of Sunday meal prepping. Then, come fall, packing all of your lunches on Sunday will be a natural part of your weekly routine.
If you can never find anything to wear, use the summer to build yourself a capsule wardrobe. Angela Watson has a great post and podcast episode about this here, and her tips have saved me time and money.
Maybe you’ve been meaning to incorporate more physical activity into your life. If you use the summer to start working out thirty minutes, three times a week, it won’t seem like such a big deal to work out regularly come back-to-school season.
Find something in your life you’d like to improve, schedule it, and create a routine that will seamlessly blend into your teaching life when school starts again.
A Final Word For Any Teacher On Summer Break
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably noticed that the key is to create a schedule and a plan. I spent my first summers just drifting with no plan whatsoever, and I always regretted it. In the years I keep to a daily schedule, I managed to accomplish many more of my summer goals.