The 2020-2021 school year was unprecedented as educators navigated so many new aspects of teaching due the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers quickly adapted to new safety procedures, teaching through virtual platforms, and having students come in and out of classrooms through quarantine schedules. In many aspects, teaching became a new profession for veteran educators. With so many school systems postponing the start of school and extending the year into June of 2021, teachers are left with a short summer before the new school year begins. Even with this quick turnaround, teachers have the opportunity to energize and renew their spirit before the start of the new year.
Allow Time to Relax
While many teachers love to spend summer break researching new strategies and planning for the start of a new school year, it is important this year to take time to relax. Taking time to read for pleasure or enjoy nature is a great way to rejuvenate the mind. Another great way to relax might be to catch up on a TV series or movies that were missed due to grading papers throughout the busy school year. Some might even get lost in a hobby like painting, sewing, or gardening. The main idea is to allow the brain time to coast and the body time to re-center so that summer can be the break it is meant to provide.
Start New Healthy Habits
Many people developed some bad habits throughout the pandemic year. Whether it was eating more junk food or sitting around playing games and working on computers rather than exercising, the “COVID-15” became a real thing for many people as they gained weight from these behaviors. New Year’s is not the only time to put lifestyle changes in motion. This summer, starting new healthy habits can be just what is needed to help get re-energized for the upcoming school year. A cooking class, whether online or in person can be a great start to new healthy living. Riding a bike, going for a jog, or walking through the park are also ways to boost the endorphins that make a person feel better from the inside. If yoga or meditation are more desired activities, then find a quiet place to practice poses, breathing, and mental well-being. No matter what, a healthy change can be good for the body and mind.
Spend Time Reading
While it is proven that reading for pleasure is a positive means of supporting one’s well-being, many do not take time for this activity. Educators who want to relax, yet still stay connected to their profession might try reading a book from an inspirational author like Todd Whittaker, Dave Burgess, or Erin Gruwell. After this demanding school year, teachers may be ready for a book on teacher burn-out or becoming a Zen teacher. The Planbook website offers specific books that can inspire teachers over the summer to be better motivated for teaching in the fall.
Clean Out Clutter
Whether at home or within the classroom, there is always something satisfying about getting rid of clutter and becoming more organized. This is also a great means of preparing for the next school year without becoming mentally bogged-down with plans. Search online for creative, attractive ways to organize materials within the classroom. Go through filing cabinets to discard items that are not necessary to keep. Do whatever it takes to turn your classroom into a place where you want to enter in the fall and where you and students feel comfortable and want to learn.
Take Up Journal Writing
This brief summer would be a great time to reflect on the ups and downs of living and teaching through a pandemic. Believe it or not, there will be things that we will forget if they are not written down. By writing about these things in a daily journal, teachers can discover how changes in procedures might be worth continuing post-pandemic. Journal writing can also help teachers connect to their inner values and goals for their career.
Personal growth can be seen when time is taken to reflect and write about what is going on in the busy life we live. A journal can also have a focus on daily blessings. Taking time to find the small things daily that impact us positively is an essential means of energizing our minds and propelling us forward.
Watch Webinars or Inspirational Videos
For teachers who want to stay connected to school, one final way to get energized during this short summer is to watch an educational webinar or video series that can benefit one’s instruction and teaching strategies. Look for a series on time-saving strategies to help organize your schedule or find motivational speakers that will inspire you to reignite the passion you have for teaching. Watch with a co-teacher or small group and discuss the potential impacts on your educational vision. This collaboration will build camaraderie for the upcoming year as well. Together you can find ways to work smarter this year, not harder.
Above all, teachers should not feel guilty about taking a little time to rest and re-energize their body and mind. Educators need it, just as their students will need them to be mentally prepared to enter the 2021 school year ready to teach in a positive light!