A Balancing Act: How Teachers Can Make the Most of Summer While Preparing for Fall

Opening the school calendar in summer to plan next-year’s lessons can be a daunting task, but it is ultimately beneficial for educators to get a head start on the year ahead. While it is crucial to make time for rest and relaxation, completing work during the summer months can reduce stress in the upcoming year.

Here are some ways teachers can get the most out of summer while maintaining a work/life balance:

First and foremost, self-care

Failing to self-care is a prevalent issue among teachers and can lead to burnout. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF) claims that half of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. Educators expel an overwhelming amount of much physical and emotional energy in their careers daily. If self-care is not a priority, teacher turnover can continue to devastate many school districts in the United States.

Self-care can be simple and look like reading a non-curriculum book, taking a workout class, or cooking a healthy meal. It helps to make a list of self-care activities and check them off one by one. Educators should make this a priority that ranks as highly as their careers.

Avoid procrastination

For teachers, summers are all about balance. That involves maintaining physical and mental health while structuring time to plan for the upcoming year. When it comes to planning, it helps to set an attainable goal. For example, starting in mid-July, dedicate two hours per week to lesson planning and one hour per week to organizing the classroom. When the first day arrives, teachers will feel refreshed and ready instead of blindsided and buried.

Get excited about the upcoming year

For many teachers, lesson planning is the best part of the job. Summers allow for time to focus on creative planning without the distraction of grading or discipline. It helps to research grade-level projects and adopt one or come up with an original idea and plan it start to finish. Many educators employ backward design and begin with a Driving Question that will guide their planning.

Colleagues can be a great resource when planning projects or units. Teachers often do not consider collaborating with other departments, but this can lead to valuable interdisciplinary work. In-depth projects that require skills from several subjects, such as a hands-on research project about a current issue or a community involvement project, can be the most fruitful.

Become a student yourself

Another great way to pass the time is to take a class at a local college. This can be simply a creative outlet or a topic that furthers your career. Additional courses are beneficial because many schools increase compensation based on collegiate units.

Another great benefit of getting behind a desk is that it encourages empathy for students. Becoming a student again serves as a reminder of the otherwise overlooked challenges they face. Teachers will be better equipped with how to combat these challenges.

Whether summer days are spent catching up on much needed sleep or being active in the community, it is important for teachers to stay enthusiastic and not fall too far behind. Striking a balance in summer can make for a more enjoyable, enthusiastic upcoming year.