Summertime game plan for thriving next year! by Kristy Placido
By now the vast majority of us are enjoying a much-deserved summer break! Summer can bring on a wide range of feelings and emotions for teachers, from relief, to anxiety, to pure joy, to dread. We also have a variety of activities to occupy ourselves with. Some of us want to do absolutely nothing but rest and recharge as much as possible. Some of us travel the world. Some of us work another job. Some of us focus on cleaning and organizing a much-neglected home that won’t get cleaned again until next summer. Some of us use the time to learn and plan for the upcoming school year. For most of us, our summer is a balance of all of these things and more, and it never seems to be enough time or as long as we thought it would be when we locked our classroom for the last time and drove away in our packed car.
In my opinion, summer is one of the most critical times in the year for a teacher. The way we spend our summer can have a tremendous impact on the upcoming school year. I’d like to share with you some things that I think are really important to do this summer:
1. Spend some time unplugged and disconnected, preferably near some trees. The Japanese promote the idea of “forest bathing” or shin-rin yoku. The concept is simply to spend time near trees doing nothing. No hiking, no reading, no iPhone. Sit or wander but nothing more. It has been proven to lower stress hormones and boost your immune system. If you live in the city, a visit to the park will do just as well. While you’re at it, try going barefoot! The practice of “earthing” is simply spending time with your bare feet on the earth has also been shown to offer enormous psychological and physical benefits!
2. Gently refocus your health goals. You don’t have to make any major changes, but are there a few little things you could do to improve your healthy habits this summer? Perhaps you might try to increase your number of servings of fruits and vegetables, up your water intake (you can use the restroom whenever you want right now!), spend an extra 30 minutes a day doing something physical such as taking a walk or a bike ride, or making a few more of your meals from scratch. You may not have the time or energy to maintain all of them once school begins, but you will benefit even from a few weeks of healthier living and it will help you start the school year with a clearer mind and stronger body.
3. Connect with other teachers who will inspire you. Whether in person or online, seek out some professional pals who have positive attitudes and a love of learning. Read a great book about teaching together, have an informal lunch to talk about your goals for the year, join a webinar together, or just share some resources you love via social media. Taking the time to develop and nurture those professional connections may sustain you through the winter blahs.
4. Review your curriculum but don’t revamp everything. Look over what you did last year and select a few things to refine or revamp, but don’t feel pressure to completely re-do all your lesson plans or create all new units. Baby steps over time is the best way to develop as a teacher. Trying to completely create new units for all of your courses is a sure path to early burn out. Tackle a few things that you think will make a positive impact, and let the rest go for now. The same goes for classroom décor. If being Pinterest-perfect stresses you out, forget about it! Put up a few colorful posters and focus on other areas of your teaching that will energize you more!
5. Re-connect with loved ones you’ve neglected. Have you visited your grandma recently? Spoken with your best friend from high school in person (Facebook doesn’t count!)? Staying connected with people you love is good for your soul. Just do it!
Kristy Placido is the editor of CI Peek. She is the author of several novels for Spanish learners and presents workshops for teachers on teaching with comprehensible input. She has been using TPRS and comprehensible input approaches in her own classroom since 1998. Check out her blog at kplacido.com and follow her on twitter and facebook!