The final bell has sounded. Goodbyes have been said. The hallways are empty.
Summer has begun. Whether you are a middle grades student, or an adult whose job is in education, you are beginning the largest block of discretionary time of your year.
In three months (or less), the bell will sound again. Students all over the country will complete the first writing assignment of the school year, the one entitled, “What I did during my summer vacation.”
What will you do on your summer vacation? How will you make your summer count? What skills have you wanted to develop? What new habits have you wanted to add to your life? What have you learned that you want to share?
Whether it’s daring adventure or personal growth, if it’s going to happen, now is the time. Without some thought, however, August will be here and you’ll have little to show for your summer weeks.
That was the summer I…
As you think back over your summers as a student, what are the ones that are memorable for you?
…The summer you learned to swim?
…The summer you learned to ski?
…The summer you learned a musical instrument?
…The summer you took that great trip?
As you think back over your adult life, which summers are the most memorable?
…The summer you landed your first teaching job?
…The summer you got married?
…The summer you gave birth to your first child?
…The summer you spoke at your first national conference?
Write a letter…to yourself
Are you ready to build more memories? Be imaginative. Take out a blank sheet of paper. Put the date in the upper-right corner. Date it the first day of the coming new school year.
Write to yourself about the summer you just experienced, where you went, what you learned, and how you have grown.
When you think you’re finished, you’re not. Go back and add details. What made you apprehensive about undertaking this goal? What succeeded past your wildest dreams? Add emotion. Write with a passion that will keep the fire alive all summer long.
You made it happen back then
The summer is long enough to make a major advancement in some area of your life if you focus.
You’ve done it before. As a child, you couldn’t swim when school ended in May. When you went back in late September, you could. Between, you went to the pool every day.
The May before you entered middle school, you didn’t even know how to assemble a clarinet. By the time school started, you could play some recognizable songs. During the summer, you were at the band room with your friends learning together. Every afternoon, you put the clarinet together and practiced the new skills.
Remember how, as a first-year teacher, you spent just about every summer day in your new classroom? You transformed a mess into a shining oasis by the time the teens arrived on “day one.”
You can make it happen now
Your letter should inspire you. It should speak not only of the result you expect but also of the journey that will get you there.
Read your letter each week during your summer journey. If you use a Tickler File, drop your letter in it so that it resurfaces 7 days from now. I wrote about the Tickler File in this article. That weekly reminder will help keep you on course.
Read your letter with your calendar and to-do list at hand. When you take your grand plans and figure out the “when” and “how,” those plans turn into actions.
When the first bell rings…
On that first day, the halls will be full of chatter as excited middle schoolers ask each other, “What did you do this summer?” When those eyes turn to the teacher and they ask that question, you’ll be ready.
This one could be the summer to remember. It’s up to you. What are you waiting for?
Frank Buck (@DrFrankBuck) served as a middle-level teacher, band director, principal, and central office administrator during a career of almost 30 years. He now speaks and writes about organization and time management. He is the author of the new second edition of Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders. Get more ideas from Dr. Buck at his website, FrankBuck.org.