How to make the most of your summer holiday
As teachers, we seem to spend the second half of summer term willing the long holiday upon us. And then, when it arrives, so many of us still start it with very little idea of what to do.
I’ve been teaching for six years and have realised it really does take some work to successfully go from the manic, caffeine-fuelled dark days of winter, to the balmy ease of an endless summer. I’ve also discovered, through writing my blog and connecting with other teachers online, there are a few handy tricks to dealing with this transition.
Some (myself included) ignore school completely during the holidays and live almost in denial that the term will ever start again until that first day back. Others (probably more sensibly) spend some of their down-time planning and preparing for the term ahead.
Whichever camp you fall in to, these tips could make a positive difference.
Remember, you’ve earned this holiday
Think back over the events of the last year: you’ve seen another group of young people through exams, run numerous after school activities, given up weekends to planning and marking, and maybe even run a residential trip or two. As a teacher, don’t feel bad that you are still in bed when others are off to work. Let there be no doubt in your mind that you have earned this break… so enjoy it.
Don’t feel obliged to take work home
If it really makes you feel better, then take some work home. If not, leave it behind. But just because someone else in your department is loading boxes into the back of their car on the last day, doesn’t mean you have to. I leave everything at school over the holidays: my school bag, lanyard, diary and planner. They are always waiting when I get back.
Remember you’re never really finished
As teachers, our jobs are never finished. And it is OK to never get to the end of that “to do” list. With that in mind, if you do take work home over the summer, make sure you prioritise and don’t overload your already tired head. Make a list of the things you must do, then stick to it. Tasks will always fill the time you give them, so spend just one afternoon redesigning that scheme of work and then get back to that BBQ.
Read something just for you
Most teachers I know love reading. In fact, many teachers I know (as an English teacher myself) became teachers because they loved reading. It is a cruel twist of fate then, that so many of us are just too tired to read for pleasure any more. The summer holidays are a great time to make up for this.
Make sure it’s reading just for you, though. Don’t be that person on the beach highlighting a book on school leadership.
Try something new
When was the last time you tried something you’ve never done before?
As adults I don’t think it happens as often as we would like, and that really is a shame. There are countless things we all say we’d like to do, but never get around to – the summer holidays are your time for this.
Also, as teachers, we push our students outside of their comfort zones every day. But when was the last time you pushed yourself?
Use the long holiday to break the cycle, and be adventurous. Then in September you can tell your students all about it. Show them you understand what it’s like to struggle at something for the first time, and prove to them that learning is lifelong – not just for the classroom.
Work on your own Long Term Plan
A couple of years ago I realised that school life was about planning… everything – from the curriculum, to the books we have on our shelves, to the recycling we do. But, do you have a personal or professional long term plan?
At some point over the summer holiday, spend some time reflecting on how the last year went. What were your greatest successes? What opportunities did you miss? And, probably most importantly: what would you like to do by this time next year, and what are you willing to do to get there?
Write these things down and look back at them over the course of the year to gauge your progress. Since I first started doing this a couple of years ago, I’ve spent just an hour each school holiday on it, yet it has helped me target the things I want, and acts as a constant reminder of where I want to get to.
Whatever you do, or don’t do this summer holiday, make sure you enjoy it because you’ve earned it.
What’s your favourite part of the summer holidays?