Are you often asked how you will spend your summer? You might respond, Oh, I’m definitely going to rest. I will challenge you to have a fresh lens about rest. Rest is not about just relaxing; it’s about restoration. Restoration is active. In fact, the dictionary describes it as “the act of bringing back something that existed before.” What if you could return to that excitement you had going into your first year?
You may wonder why this is so crucial. Well, as you know, teaching is a series of hellos and goodbyes. The impact this has on us can be taxing because we are grieving relationships that will need to end, and then we are entering into a whole new era of the unknown the following year. this happens year after year.
Here are five ways to truly REstore this summer and be in tip-top shape to start a new year.
RE-boot: Take a technology break
Turn all your devices off for 24 hours. Find a time once a week to unplug and then turn it into a habit each week. Why should you do this? I mean you have emails, friends to text and images to check out on Social Media!
There’s enough research out there to show that our brain needs a rest from the screen in order to restore. “Psychology Today’s” Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD notes that all that multi-tasking you have done as a teacher, and we know teachers (and mothers) are masters at juggling about 100 things at once, this does not make you more productive. The human brain is not wired to perform two tasks at once. Therefore, being on your devices this summer is not going to give your brain the much-needed rest it needs; hence, after unplugging, you’ll find you’re happier, productive and relaxed
RE-read: Find those inspirational books you loved
Now that you’ve unplugged a bit, pick up a book. When I first entered the profession, I was handed “The Courage to Teach” by Parker Palmer. It was like having a shot of motivation and inspiration in my arm each time I picked up the book. Find those pearls you once read and return to be that excited first-year teacher. You might ask some of your colleagues their top two favorite books on teaching.
RE-flect on your teaching and classroom
You’re still unplugged and you now can start to write. I personally like to write in a journal, but you can use your laptop. However, you may be more distracted and tempted to check your email or pop on a social media site. If you can get a notebook, write out some thoughts. Here are a few questions to get you started:
- What are three things you are proud of this year?
- What were three frustrations that you had this year?
- Was there an itch you had that you wanted to scratch but couldn’t?
- How did you grow professionally this year?
- How did you grow personally this year?
- What is a mistake you made this year? How would you have done it differently?
- What gets you excited about teaching this next year?
- Describe your classroom now. What would you change?
- Draw a design of how you’d like to see your classroom laid out. How would it run from the beginning of the day to the end?
- Describe your most difficult student. What would you have done differently.
Re-turn to creativity
Did you know there are a plethora of resources in your local community? Maybe you don’t want to take a formal education class, but you could head to a park, museum or library for a lecture or discussion. Also, your local parks and rec have many art and music classes which would be life-giving and nurture your creative side. My best lesson ideas come from times when I’m not in my classroom but just living my life.
Re-vision your learning environment
It’s never too late for a classroom makeover. Summer is the best time to throw out the old and make room for the new. Since you have unplugged, your brain has the space to think and plan. Your creative juices are also flowing because you’re journaling and engaging in some type of creative endeavor. Start to imagine. Imagine how your classroom blueprint could be recreated into a well-oiled, learning machine with a warm, inviting feel.
With these five ideas, your summer can move from being restful to restorative. You can be fresh and ready to take on a new class, new colleagues, and new families. Keep the weekly habit of unplugging through the school year, and you’ll be assured not to feel exhausted when your year ends next year.
Have a RE-vitalizing summer.
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- Chapman, Sandra Bond PhD. (2014). Why your mind needs a break; Psychology Today.
Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/make-your-brain-smarter/201406/why-your-mind-needs-break
More about Stephanie:
Dr. Stephanie Knight is an experienced 7th and 8th grade English language arts educator. She taught in Title One schools for eight years—helping them grow from underperforming to excelling—and then in an independent school for four years. Knight is now is part of Grand Canyon University’s adjunct faculty where she teaches graduate-level education and reading courses.