As much as I love teaching, these long summer days are my most treasured days of the year. Waking up when it’s daylight outside, sipping-rather than gulping coffee, time to enjoy my kids, not feeling the day-to-day grind, makes summer days my absolute favorite days. However, every year, I start feeling a little teacher summer guilt. It’s never anything major, but I can’t help feeling like I should be doing something differently. If I’m playing or loafing around, I start thinking that I should probably get a little school work accomplished. Then, if I’m working, I starting thinking that I should really take a break and focus on something different. Even if you are perfectly guilt free, you might enjoy reading some of the tips below on how to make the most of your summer.
Don’t Compare Yourself
Goodness, this is a hard one for me, professionally and personally. While I enjoy Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, it’s not always good for me. I’ve already seen pictures of teachers setting up adorable classrooms, and it makes me feel the onset of a bonafide panic attack! I’m moving schools and classrooms, and I won’t be able to get into my classroom until a couple days before school starts. I start stressing that I’m behind and become consumed with all that I need to do. I’m almost embarrassed to share it, but I took obsessing to a whole new level when, spurred by summer guilt, I made a diagram of my intended classroom layout. I recognize that the chances of this actually working are slim to none, but having a plan makes me feel better.
When I compare myself, I sometimes feel inadequate, and I focus on what others are doing, rather than concentrating on doing my best. This is the opposite of productive.
Here’s another one that’s incredibly difficult for me. I start every summer with lofty goals. I’m going to work with my kids on reading and/or math everyday, and spend much more time in the kitchen cooking healthy food for my family. I’m going to work out consistently. I will keep the house neat and clean. Guess what? I’ve failed on all of the above. While all of my goals are good goals to have, I need to be realistic with my expectations. While I do have more time, I didn’t turn into Superwoman just because it is summer. And, that’s perfectly fine.
This is hard for me professionally as well. As I began prepping for 4th grade, I knew that there was absolutely no way that I could ever finish making all of the 4th grade math units for the year. However, there was this itty bitty part of me who thought that maybe, if I worked hard enough, I could do it. Well, summer vacation is already half way over, and while I’ve finished a HUGE amount of work, I’m not even close to finishing all of the math units. I need to make sure that I focus on what I have accomplished, rather that what didn’t get finished. As a teacher, I always try to set my students up for success, rather than failure, and I need to do the same for myself.
Think About Motivation
The first several summers after I got married, my husband was shocked at how much time I spent working on school things. He couldn’t understand why I would work the entire summer, when technically I could turn it all off. It probably didn’t help that he had to use his free time to look for scrap pieces of wood that we could use to build bookcases with, since we couldn’t afford lumber from a hardware store, much less prebuilt bookcases.
I used to think that maybe it was bad or crazy for me to work so much over the summer, but I finally realized that I do it, because I want to. I realize that the majority of what I do isn’t really necessary. The truth is…I love teaching, planning, and prepping my classroom. I love creating curriculum and organizing my teacher things. Summer work is fun to me. We should not feel guilty about our passion as a teacher. Now, if I was doing it because I was required to do the work, that would be a whole other story. That’s the best way to make me not want to do something.
On the flip side, if you need the entire summer off to recharge and recuperate, that’s okay too. As teachers, we all know that what works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. I’ve worked with many amazing teachers who were able to completely step away over the summer, and they were nothing short of incredible. We have to do what works for us and allow ourselves to be okay with it.
By the way, my husband now has a job where he was able to find his passion, and he now “gets it”. And, he still spends his free time working on things for my classroom.
Be in the Moment
I have no idea why this is so hard for me, but it is. I feel like my mind is in constant overdrive, even during the summer, and that I’ve trained myself to always think about the next step, so that it’s hard to just enjoy the moment. This summer, I want to savor the little things that make lasting memories. These days are treasures, and I want to enjoy every second. For me, that means putting away the computer and not trying to work-play at the same time, giving in to “summer guilt.” Even during the school year, I try to be careful about how much time I spend on my phone, and then continue that over the summer. I don’t want to miss out on moments, because my head is in my phone worrying about something that could wait until later. Summer is too short (at least for me), so I want to make the most of it by being present.
After rereading this post, I realize that it looks like I was writing to myself. What are your tips for making the most of your summer?