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Refresh and Renew: The Joy of Summer Time for Teachers

I wanted to take time and use this blog not as a place to talk about educational apps, but to offer ideas about summer time and teaching. I hope you enjoy 🙂

The importance of rest and rejuvenation for teachers is paramount. Speaking from my personal experience, I am most excited at the beginning of the school year. I’m ready to meet my students, learn our subject together, and be part of my school’s community. It is a time of high energy, lofty expectations, and grand plans. As the year winds by, I slowly start to fall in a routine and my mindset coming out of summer begins drifting into more of an “I’m-on-the-grind” mindset. When I feel myself shifting gears, I remember the image shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Phases of First Year Teaching

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California Department of Education. (1990). California New Teacher Project. Retrieve on July 16, 2015 from http://www.plaea.org/media/cms/Phases_of_First_Year_Teaching_244B8_2E72A0B143293.pdf.

I was first shown this image when I was a graduate teaching assistant, and it still resonates with me. It captures the emotions I have throughout the year, and it hasn’t changed with my now years of experience (yikes). I’m writing about those emotions now because I’m at a high, I’ve reflected on last year and I’m anticipating the start of the upcoming school year. To that end, I want to share with you some of the reasons for my anticipation.

  1. Reflection Breeds Innovation. If we are honest with ourselves, we all can think of the lessons we wish we could do over again. I don’t know a single teacher who hasn’t wanted to scream “MULLIGAN!” halfway through a lesson (or class) and start over. Summer provides us the time to think back over the lessons when this occurred and consider what we would have done differently and anticipate the opportunity to do so.
  2. Make a New School Year Resolution. One personal tradition I started many years ago was to make a resolution and stick to it for one year. In 2012, I resolved to use my iPad as the only piece of instructional technology I’d bring into my classroom. In 2013, I chose to go completely paperless. In 2014, I wanted to involve students in my own scholarly pursuits. This year, I’m not answering student emails on the weekend. No matter the grade level or the school where you teach, I highly encourage you to consider making a resolution and sticking to it for a year. Since making those resolutions, I’ve reverted back to using many pieces of instructional technology and occasionally printing out handouts for my students. The point is that these resolutions have changed the way I think about teaching and gave me a professional challenge to accept and fulfill.
  3. Get Sentimental. This may sound silly, but summer provides us time to fall back in love with teaching. We became teachers for a reason, and we need to rediscover it. I encourage my colleagues and students who are pre-service teachers to join me in rereading texts that motivated them to become teachers. For me, it was Parker Palmer’s The Heart of a Teacher. Since becoming more experienced, I have found great meaning in the letter simply titled To the Teacher Down the Hall. Sentimental and a bit hokey… yes … but its essence is that we – our heart, being, and humanism – are the qualities students remember.

In close, I wish my teaching colleagues a restful end to their summer vacation and to get hyped for next year. The kids will be there, our classrooms will be there, and soon we will be there!