Don't Work - Dream!

July 18, 2012 / by Lily Jones

Hopefully you are all enjoying a restful and rejuvenating summer! As a teacher, I have always entered into summer exhausted and in need of a long break. At the beginning of summer, I would feel as if I was emerging from under a rock. Those first days of summer break seem to always be spent catching up on news, seeing friends, and discovering new books and movies. Where had I been?

Then I'd remember: I'd been teaching kids to read, assessing student work, planning lessons and responding to e-mails from parents before falling into my bed every night. Of course I hadn't had time to see new movies or read novels!

Teaching, by nature, is unbalanced. We work incredibly hard throughout the school year and then the school year suddenly screeches to a halt. Just like that, we're on summer break. But before we know it the school year will be upon us and we'll be immersed in the craziness of fall (Don't think about it too much-- I promise I'm not trying to make you feel stressed!). Is there anything that can be done to make the school year feel less crazy?

Summer has always seemed like the perfect time to get ready for the school year, but in actuality it's typically used for the always-needed mental break from the classroom. But by either completely relaxing or frantically working, it's hard to achieve balance in summer or fall.

student deep in thought

I hope you're spending time with those movies and novels this summer, but I'm also going to suggest that you allow yourself to dream. Don't work-- dream. Just think about what your classroom could be like next year. Don't worry about implementation, don't worry about how things will get done. Think about the parts of teaching that get you excited rather than the aspects that make you stressed. Browse the Tch video collection to find lessons that resonate with you. For me, this video about kindergartners participating in an "Antiques Roadshow" gets me excited to try a new version of sharing. Focus on finding ideas that make you feel inspired to try new things this fall.

In addition to adding just a little bit of "school-think" into your summer, remember to add a little "summer-think" into your fall. Sure, there are tons of things that need to be done at the beginning of the school year. But remember not to let yourself get stuck too far under the haze of the school year. Save a novel that you didn't get to during the summer and read just a little bit at the start of the school year. You'll be happier, and happier teachers make happier classrooms. When you're in the thick of the school year, think back to your summer dreams for a little inspiration.

teacher relieving some stress

Remember that the job of a teacher is never done. Never. There will always be more lessons to plan, more materials to create, more kids to reach. When you're working hard and it seems like there's still so much to do, recognize your efforts and take a break. Think about ways to incorporate summer relaxation into your fall. Choose a summer behavior that you'd like to continue in the fall-- maybe reading, watching movies or exercising. See how Sarah Brown Wessling kicks stress and brings balance to her classroom here.

Now get back to your summer fun!

Topics: Professional Learning, Growth Mindset, Motivation

Lily Jones

Written by Lily Jones

Lily Jones taught K/1 for seven years in Northern California. She has experience as a curriculum developer, instructional coach, teacher trainer, and is also a contributing writer for Teaching Channel.

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