You have no doubt let your parents know about the dreaded summer slide: That time when students can lose progress during the summer months. And I'm sure you have also let them know the importance of practicing those skills over the summer so students can start off the new school year ready and raring to go.
But what about us teachers? What should we make sure doesn’t take the proverbial slide over the break? And are there some things we should let slide away into the summer abyss?
Here are some dos and don’ts for the summer slide:
Don’t let your school achievements take a slide: Take time to reflect to see what has worked well with your students this year. What standout moments did you have this year that really brought your students to the next level? Write it down, make notes, and add to/delete from current lessons, units, and assessments. Spending some time at the beginning of the summer to analyze your instruction and reorganize your files will help you start off the school year on better footing. It is beneficial to reflect while it’s fresh in your mind instead of waiting until August comes around.
Do let your negative energy take a slide: The end of the year is exhausting. You have been with your students and coworkers for over 150 days. You juggle coworkers, district objectives, curriculum, testing, your students’ social and emotional needs, and their academic success on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we all look like we have just been hit by a dump truck at the end of the year! And with that exhaustion can come complaining, negativity, and pessimism. It’s time to let that negative energy take a slide! Practice self-care this summer: travel, see friends, and catch up on sleep. You will feel renewed and ready to start the new school year with a more positive attitude.
Don’t let professional development take a slide: We are in the business of learning, people! I realize our summers are getting shorter and shorter, but you actually do have some time to learn something. With webinars, TED talks, and podcasts, you can do a lot of this learning poolside. Self-care and professional development all at once—it’s a win-win! Seriously, figure out what shortcomings you may have and do something about it. I plan on becoming an Apple teacher and learning more about integrating arts into the classroom. What better example can we set for our students when we show that we are lifelong learners?
Do let unhealthy habits take a slide: I understand and enjoy that Teacher Appreciation Week falls at the end of the year. It is such a special time when the PTA and families let us know how much they have appreciated all we have done for their children. I really love it, but my own lack of self-control kicks into high gear during this time! I wholeheartedly join in with my own self-appreciation by shoving copious amounts of chocolates into my mouth, drinking soda after soda, and not exercising—because I’m exhausted, remember? Well, now is the time to put things into check. Get back on track with your diet and exercise routine, and if you don’t have one, get on it! Just walking the dog and cutting back on sugar can do wonders for your overall health and well-being.
Don’t let inspiration take a slide: Teaching is one of the most inspiring professions on the planet. I try not to take this lightly. For one year, I am the most important person in my students' lives (aside from their families, of course). I inspire my students to learn, grow, explore, and create every day. Teachers literally change the world one student at a time. We are educating future doctors, lawyers, artists, writers, psychologists—the list goes on! Take time to watch a cheesy teacher movie like Gifted or read a book like Wonder to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Last summer I watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and was completely inspired by Fred Rogers. I changed one of my daily songs for my students and sang about how much I loved them at the end of every day, because kids just need to hear that, ya know?
Do let self-doubt take a slide: Almost 77% of educators are women, and what do many women love to do? Self-doubt. And if there are any doubting Thomases out there, listen up! It is so easy to criticize ourselves. Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t just a term for our neighbors. It’s very easy to fall into the trap: my principal likes her better than me, why are his test scores always better than mine, she always has the best ideas, etc. Self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-criticism can wreak havoc on your lifestyle. It’s hard to dig yourself out of this hole, but it is really important that you do so. You are amazing, so be sure to practice self-care, continue learning, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Celebrate your successes and forgive yourself when you fail, because you will fail, and that’s okay! Lean on those who love you—and love yourself while you’re at it, because you are worth it.
Summer is here, my friend. You made it! Now, take some time to let some things slide away and regroup to be ready for fall. And keep the momentum going with those things that energize and excite you—don’t let those take a slide this summer. You will be ready for the new school year before you know it, because we all know how quickly August catches up with us!
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