This article was written by Dave Webb - a teacher with 29 years experience. He is the author of ten books for young people, a memoir of his teaching experiences, and a book for parents and teachers entitled, Read, Understand, Enjoy: Getting Kids to LOVE Books. Find his books and more on his website.
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It’s that time again. Ten (or more) weeks of uninterrupted “me” time for all the teachers out there. It’s the Number One perk of the job (and the one that pretty much keeps me from switching to another profession), but with all that freedom comes responsibility, as well. You know the saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s tools.” It has more than a grain of wisdom, and there are a few things that all of us educators need to consider while taking that all-important vacation away from our jobs.
1. Never stop learning.
They say that kids suffer “brain drain” during the summer months, but sometimes teachers can, too. Go to a museum, read a book, or take a class. These are just some suggestions on how we can stay on top of our game and come into the school year with a cool experience or newfound knowledge to share with our new classes. Last year, for example, I took a trip to Canada and visited a Native American reservation. Not only did I gain some valuable first-hand experiences to use during our unit on Native Americans, but I also had a great time and met some really great people.
2. Don’t become a fountain of negativity.
Anything bad that happened during the year is over now. It’s time to hit the reset button and move on. While away from the school environment, it can be easy to let our guard down and publicly spout off about administrators, students, parents, and other teachers we don’t like. Social media can complicate things even further. Watch what you say in public, because it can come back and bite you when you least expect it. Case in point: A few years ago one of my nephews was standing in line with his grandmother at a discount store and noticed that his soon-to-be former teacher was at the front of the line. They both could hear her conversation with the cashier, which was unfortunately very negative towards her class. She called them “unteachable” and other unflattering words, and seemed to be too happy that the year was coming to an end. The teacher never noticed her student behind her in line, but it gave my nephew a negative view of teachers that I’m still trying my best to correct today.
3. Don’t forget to relax.
You worked hard all year and now have a well-deserved break. That’s right – you earned it. You and your family should do something special. It doesn’t have to be an expensive vacation. Now that you have the time, get together with as many family members and friends as you can and make a memory.
4. Don’t spend the summer worrying about the next school year.
Maybe you already know who will be in your new class. Maybe you don’t know at all, and you want to. Relax. It will be fine. You’ll have plenty of time to sort things out in August.
5. Don’t sit around and do nothing.
We all will sleep in those first few days, but when you’re ready, get up and get some exercise. All that walking you do for 180 days a year keeps you in shape. In the summer, I like to find a nice walking trail at a state or city park and do a few laps to keep me in condition, and to ensure that the first day of school is not any more physically draining than it has to be.
6. Don’t forget how much you love what you do.
For most of us, teaching is a joy and a privilege. I love going to work each day because I find teaching a fulfilling and rewarding occupation. I also love having all that time off, not only for the chance to recharge, but because it makes me appreciate my teaching life even more by being away from it for so long. “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” Another true-to-life adage, for sure. All the little successes I had with my students linger in my mind, and I long to experience them again. That hug I received on the last day of school keeps me going all summer long, and I’m ready to start all over again in the fall.