Summer break is here, or on its way, depending on where you teach. Here in Arizona, I’ve been out for almost two weeks. Before you get too jealous, I return for pre-service at the end of July! But now is the time to make some plans and ensure that you make the most of your summer.
The first few days or even first week of summer vacation consist mainly of naps. Not to brag, but I’m really good at napping. 😉 The end of the school year can be exhausting, and it takes a while to recover. As a matter of fact, there was one year that I did nothing over summer break; I simply relaxed. To be honest, I was injured by a student a few weeks before school got out, and I truly needed time to physically and emotionally recover. I didn’t feel guilty about sitting on my couch watching Netflix, walking my dogs, and reading all summer, because I knew it was what I needed. By the time the first day of school rolled around, I was welcoming the students like a princess at Disneyland. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: teaching is a stressful job. We need time to mentally, physically, and emotionally refresh. If we don’t take that time, we will not be ready to give 100% when school resumes.
Another thing that I like to do at the very beginning of summer is reflect on the last school year. My reasoning for doing this right away is that the year is fresh in my mind, but you can reflect later in your summer if that works better for you. What went well, and why was it successful? What didn’t go so well? Are there ways you can improve? Is there anything new that you’d like to implement next year? Maybe your students were very successful in regards to music literacy, but you’d like to add in more improvisation next year. Make a document of your reflections, so that you can refer to it later.
If you’re anything like me, my home life takes a back seat at the end of the school year. Once I’ve had some time to rest, I like to tackle all the things that I’ve put aside during the last weeks of the school year. I take care of my car, organize things around the house, and do a full deep clean. Other things I like to focus on in the summer include hair cuts, doctor appointments, and coffee dates with friends. Many of these things are hard to schedule during the school year, so I make them a priority in the summer. This time of year is also perfect for focusing on healthy eating, establishing an exercise routine, or adding some self care into your weekly schedule. So think about what things in your life you put on the back burner when work got extra busy, that you might want to refocus on with your extra time.
That document you made with your end-of-year reflections will come in handy now. If there is something new you want to implement in the fall, now is the time to do your research. I want to take a deeper dive into the Orff approach, so I will be reading Discovering Orff this summer. Maybe you want to focus on classroom management, or using exit tickets. Since I will be starting at a new school in the fall, there are some changes that I want to prepare for. I’ll have ukuleles for the first time, so I’ll be studying up with Shelley Tomich’s Rainbow Ukulele program. Summer is also a great time to take a workshop or level, find repertoire, or plan your programs. Of course, planning your curriculum is key, too, and I plan on going in-depth on this subject later this summer. Whatever your goals may be, you can use the summertime to prepare.
It’s weird, but I have trouble with this one, so this advice is as much for me as it is for you. Go out. Have fun. Take a trip, even if it’s a day trip to your nearest big city. A teacher budget can make it challenging to plan summer activities, but that just means we need to get creative! Make a list of books, movies, and/or music you want to experience this summer. I listen to audiobooks on my commute, but I am so looking forward to turning actual pages in a book. Go out for ice cream. Go for a hike. My husband and I are on a tight budget, so other than visiting our family in Illinois, we don’t go on real vacations. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun! We can take a day to explore a part of Phoenix, or drive up to Prescott and escape the heat for a few hours. Get some favorite candy or popcorn, and have a movie night at home. Just do little things that make summer special for you. Enjoy your well-deserved break!