So if you’re anything like me, Summer as a teacher is a struggle. While I enjoy the time off and the space from my kids and co-workers (whoops), it can be hard to fully let go and let be. My mind races with how to improve for my new classes, what things I should try out “now that I have the time, and any day I spend fully at the beach, lake, or on the couch, I feel a little bummed I wasn’t working to improve my classroom and curriculum.
Now if you’re one of those teachers that I am so jealous of – that is at the point in your career where you think of summer as what it should be.. IGNORE THIS. If you shut your laptop and don’t open it until the week before school, have a killer tan, relaxed vibe, and don’t even consider what you’re teaching until August 18th… like I said. IGNORE THIS.
But for those of you that can’t shut your teacher brain off, have no fear. I am starting the process of mastering this little thing we call a vacation, by using a few planning strategies and questions that let me feel productive, but limit how far I can go down the rabbit hole of planning, instruction, and yes decorating.
So I’ve been using my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to create planning documents and journals on Notability, and it has helped my brain feel clear and stress-free. So this Summer, mark my words, I am only sticking to the three topics and pages I made to reflect and plan with.
1. Apps to try!
So the first thing I think of, because let’s be honest for me it’s fun, are applications to try for my classroom. I create a notability document and start to find examples of things from Instagram like Tara Martin’s Book Snaps idea (INGENIOUS)! Or a new application for something that seems like it’s my style such as Now Comment. I’ll keep a running list and try them out, whenever-I-damn-well-please-because-it’s-summer, and be on my way. Sometimes surfing blogs, twitter, and websites help us get our brain thinking in a far removed sort of way. It’s just far removed enough for us to feel like we are “developing” over vacation and still feel fun!
2. Last Year’s Successes
The other thing that is “fair game” is the successes of last year. We tend to always focus on the things that crashed and burned in front of our eyes with kids there as witnesses either giggling or in frustration. Instead, it’s awesome to pick 1, 3 or 23 things that we are proud of and consider why they went well, and how to make them even better. This makes us feel like we can have a great year, and it really allows us to consider why some things go better than others. Is it because we genuinely “like” that more, or because we took a week to plan it out first, maybe we formatively assessed before delivering, or it was just a good day! All in all, it’s reasonable to consider that reflection is such an important part of teaching and we can pick up and put down the pen whenever just the thought of that unit makes us tired!
3. Time Saving Improvements
So sometimes we find yourself in the midst of copying, planning, scanning, or preparing and think… why didn’t I do this when I had the time? Summer is another awesome opportunity to plan and complete those ‘mindless’ tasks we all love. Maybe it is photocopying all 10 lessons of vocabulary for semester 1, or uploading the files to your website or favorite application. It may also mean going through and scrutinizing the order of our plans (if we get to repeat the same courses), or more. But regardless, it is safe to say that as educators there is always something to do. Summertime can have us relax while monotonously cutting out all the words for our word wall, as long as we have a beer or margarita in our hand right? Yup, I said it.
So wrapping up don’t feel guilty if these are the only three things you get to this summer. Don’t even feel guilty if you don’t, you read this, and that counts. Just know if you have a restless brain that can’t sit still, and you need a little time, these are the easiest ways to feel successful and planned! Oh and I’m not an artist but come on, Notability and the iPad Pro and Pencil are seriously the best planning tool ever. So even if all you do is play around on yours and write out your grocery list or weekend plans, you’re ‘developing’ as a professional I would say.