5 Ways to Stay Productive During Summer Break
Don’t you love that term? Summer break? Yes, it can be a time to relax with friends and family, but if you’re anything like me, that lasts for a good week before you’re all driving one another crazy. If you’re not careful, your summer break can easily turn into Netflix binging and overeating lime popsicles. It has taken me a decade to embrace my summer break and make the very best of it. The following list is based on no research but my own. If you’re naturally energetic or made of money, maybe you don’t have the same slovenly habits during summer break. If you’re anybody else in the world, these 5 tips might help beat the summertime slump and help make the next school year a little more successful.
- Read a book that you might be able to introduce to your class.
I realize that this might be easier for some disciplines, but regardless of what you teach, introducing your students to literature is vitally important. I teach high school English, so I’m constantly thinking about new works to incorporate, but this can be done easily for science (think about that chapter in Frankenstein when the Creature comes to life!), or social studies (Animal Farm, anyone? Surely this is something to consider at the elementary school level because there are mountains of new books being published. (Dory Fantasmagory, Early Bird, Blizzard.) One year I taught 7th grade math and was able to incorporate Chasing Vermeer, so I know it’s possible. Even if you don’t incorporate a book into your curriculum, read something your kids are reading and build a lesson plan around it. Couldn’t math teachers discuss the arena in Catching Fire? How did Katniss Everdeen use math to figure out where that darn fire was going to stop? Whatever you teach, incorporate literature into it. It’s important for students to see literacy in action and outside of their Language Arts class.
- Visit an art museum.
One of the best ways to teach critical thinking is through the visual arts. Visit your regional art museum or take a class to help introduce you to the visual arts. What works can you bring into your classroom to teach a concept or theme? If you don’t live near an art museum, you can find multiple resources online. There is also a new TED book by Chip Kidd called Judge This. This book gives you basics on how to judge the visual world. It’s a great jumping off point for understanding visual arts and introducing them to your students.
- Read a professional text with other teachers.
One of the most beneficial professional developments I have ever been a part of was a summer book club of two professional texts. The group of teachers I was involved with took it an extra step and we had refreshments and enjoyed our discussion of the text by the pool. However, it was wonderful to talk strategy and get ideas from colleagues that I don’t always have time to talk to. The wealth of resources out there make picking the text fun. I recommend anything by Kelley Gallagher or Penny Kittle. Teach like a Champion is a great starting point as well.
- Stay current in educational policy.
I am thankful for Twitter and Facebook because they are the easiest ways for me to stay in touch with what is going on. It’s no secret that there are a lot of changes coming to education. With Common Core, state testing, and legislation fighting all of it, it’s important to know where you stand as a classroom teacher and how to make your voice heard. Get involved. Staying current is the best way to start the new school year.
- Shop for your first day outfit.
Why wait for the crowds and the back-to-school sales when you can start the search for the best outfit for the first day (or the first week...whatever your budget allows). Feeling confident is a great way to kick off the year, so make a day of it, go to an outlet mall while you’re vacationing with family and friends, and find something awesome!