The end of the year is finally here! Teachers in school districts around the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief. “We made it!” As any teacher knows, summer vacation isn’t just for the students. We, teachers, need these summer months just as much (if not more) than the students who occupy the desks in the classroom. Have you thought about how you will spend your free time during summer break?
Here are a few summer break ideas for teachers to get you started:
Get some sleep.
This is first on the list for a reason. There are few things that a teacher needs more at the end of the school year than some good ole’ fashioned sleep! I’m talking no early alarms waking you up. No anxiety dreams filled with students’ faces (we’ve all been there.) Just some good, quality rest. If you’re able, plan to go to bed a little early. Create a relaxing nighttime routine you truly enjoy! As a bonus, take a nap if you have enough time. Sleep is one simple luxury to make a staple in your daily schedule this summer.
Read a book.
I’m talking a “just for fun” truly pleasurable read. The kind you don’t have the time (or energy) to tackle during the school year. Summer offers a great opportunity to lose yourself in a book. If you aren’t sure what to read, as a friend or check out one of the many book lists on Goodreads.
Purge your desk drawers.
If you’re anything like me, there’s a good chance your teacher’s desk drawers have accumulated all sorts of random supplies and, let’s be honest, junk over the course of the previous school year. I’m talking more paper clips than you could ever possibly use. Notes and pictures given to you by students. Sticks of gum that have hardened after being pushed to the back of the drawers for months. Giving those drawers a good purge and cleaning is a great way to spend part of your vacation time.
Do some reflective journaling.
In the intensity of the school year schedule, there often isn’t much time to truly pause and reflect on how things are truly going within your classroom instruction. Summer is a great time to reflect on the past year and use that reflection to inform your planning for the upcoming year. Some things to consider might be:
- What were the strengths/weaknesses of your classroom management?
- Which education units were the most effective and engaging? Which did your students struggle with the most?
- What was your favorite lesson to teach? Why?
- How were my relationships with my students?
- How was my collaboration with fellow teachers?
Try a new hobby.
Summer break is the perfect time to try something new! Find yourself a hobby you can throw yourself into for a few weeks, just to see what you think! Do you have a knack for crafty projects? Have you always wanted to explore your “outdoorsy” side? Set aside a little bit of time each day to give your new hobby a try. Who knows? It may become a regular part of your life even after the summer ends.
Refine your craft.
The best teachers know that excellent teaching requires ongoing learning. Take some time this summer to boost your teaching expertise. This could look like taking an online course, revamping old lesson plans, reading a few good professional development books, or even taking classes towards an advanced degree. It doesn’t have to be complicated or overly time-consuming, just a focused and intentional effort to strengthen your work in the teaching profession.
Reorganize your classroom.
I have yet to meet a teacher whose classroom couldn’t use some deep cleaning, organization and redecorating before the start of the school year. Some teachers prefer to do this work in a few long days right before school starts. Others like to spread it out in smaller chunks over several weeks. Whatever your preference, just be sure to set aside some time this summer to great that classroom back in order. Your future self will thank you during the first week of school.
Stock up on new school supplies.
There’s nothing like a pack of fresh Expo markers or a cup holder full of pens that actually work! Don’t forget to take advantage of the back-to-school sales happening during the second half of the summer. Grab all of the essential supplies you’ll need for the coming school year.
Invest in your social life.
Friends? Remember those?! Now that your evenings won’t be full of grading papers, you might actually have time to work on the other relationships in your life. So, join a book club or go grab drinks with the girls! Whatever will provide you with a fun evening and a sense of connection.
Make some extra money.
Summer break is a great time to boost your savings account. Many teachers choose to take advantage of the time off to pick up a second job. When it comes to summer jobs for teachers, there truly are countless options. For example:
- Help students prevent that dreaded summer slide by offering tutoring to interested families.
- Share your skills and expertise by working with district summer programs. Try running a “mad science” summer camp or work with engineering-minded students in young inventors’ programs. Summer is a great time to get creative with all of the truly fun parts of teaching science.
- Lend a hand in your district’s summer school. As long as there are students who could use some remedial work, there must be teachings to help!
- Babysit! Not all summer jobs need to be “education” focused. If you enjoy spending time with kids but want a break from the mentally draining work of teaching, connect with a family who could use some childcare help this summer. As a trained educational professional, I can guarantee summer babysitting opportunities won’t be in short supply if you’re interested.
Mentor new teachers.
Remember back to the days of that last summer before your first year of teaching? It can be an exciting but truly overwhelming time for year teachers as they prepare for their very first official year in the classroom. If you’ve got a new teacher joining your team or grade level, lend a hand! Help them create of list of essential supplies to purchase. Steer them in the direction of the copier or laminating machine. If you’ve got extra resources to pass off, do so! Every little bit of help is so appreciated in those first months as a new teacher.
Plan for the first day of school.
Have you thought about how you’re going to kick off the next school year? That first week is such an important time for building rapport with your students, creating systems and routines, and establishing expectations. If your past “first week” plans could use a refresh, here are a few of my personal go-to activities that will get your new science crew started on the right foot!
As you plan for your upcoming weeks of summer vacation, I invite you to choose a few of the summer break ideas for teachers from this list and give them a try! However you choose to spend your vacation, I hope it’s restful and enjoyable. You deserve it!
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If this article was helpful to you, drop a comment below and let me know what grade you teach and how many years you’ve been a teacher!