During a school year, educators invest hundreds of hours into students, families, colleagues, and teaching and learning. They wear the hats of many, while often putting the needs of others before their own. Once the school year concludes, the summer months provide educators with an opportunity for increased rest, relaxation, and a sense of renewed energy both physically and emotionally. These months also often provide the time and space educators desire for focused and ongoing professional growth.
Read on to discover ways to balance self-care with professional growth during the summer in order to start your school year rejuvenated and refreshed.
Explore Your Passions – Personally and Professionally
Educators are remarkable humans with passions that exist beyond the walls of the schools in which they serve. The summer months are a time to explore those passions both personally and professionally. As you think about your summer, stretch yourself to explore those passions. It is not necessarily about filling the weeks off, yet picking several things that you wish to learn and grow further about as an investment to yourself. Personally, maybe it involves traveling to a new place, reading the latest bestseller, or even dabbling in a new hobby with a friend or family member. Professionally, use this time to explore an area or topic of interest and use this time away as a form of personal inquiry. Maybe it involves watching videos or webinars, reading blogs, or even attending a conference. You get to be the designer of your own learning, so pick passions that you feel will propel you forward in both your personal and professional realms.
Do What Gives You Energy
The summer months allow educators to slow down the day-to-day pace. Listen to your body and mind. Give yourself the time to sleep in, recharge, and more importantly, do what gives you energy. For some, connecting and being around the company of others is invigorating, while for others, spending quiet time at home is exactly what is needed to feel refreshed. We all get energy in different ways, so as you think about professional growth, be sure to be mindful of professional growth opportunities that also give you energy. You do not have to do it all just because it is summer. While attending multiple conferences could be fulfilling professionally, if that leaves you personally depleted of energy, then consider ways to be mindful of your own self-care such as maybe only attending one conference. If being at home gives you energy, then spend time learning professionally from the comfort of your own environment by reading and exploring digital content. Do not be afraid to make your learning public either. Collaboration can come in multiple forms as well ranging from grabbing lunch with a colleague to video calling with a friend across the world. In today’s world, learning is accessible from anywhere at any time, so educators are at an advantage to be selective about listening to their own self-care needs while also furthering their own professional growth.
Reflect and Plan Ahead
In the sprint to the finish of the school year, educators can find themselves exhausted by the time they exit for the summer. As educators take time to recharge, the summer months provide the additional time needed for meaningful reflection as well as proactive planning ahead. Whether it is outside on the back porch, by the pool, or even at a local coffee shop, take some time to reflect on celebrations and successes of the previous school year as well as how those successes can be built upon to define the actions needed for the upcoming school year. Reflect upon times when your own self-care needs were negated and how you might ensure that you find balance during the school year as well. Self-care is not found only in the summer months, and in order to best support those you serve, you have to remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Use this time to do some vision planning in terms of where you have been, where you are now, and where you are headed next. Plan for how you will use your professional growth from the summer to transfer into the teaching and learning of the upcoming school year. By taking time to plan ahead, you will be starting the school year with refined clarity and purpose both personally and professionally.
Balancing self-care with professional growth in the summer months can look different for everyone. However, the most powerful investment educators can make is within themselves. Striving to achieve a balance year-round creates the best versions of ourselves as well as provides students, families, colleagues, and communities with healthy and strong educators. Whatever may come your way this summer, find your passions, fuel your energy, reflect, and plan ahead. You owe it to yourself. Wishing you a fruitful and inspiring year ahead!