A Great Summer Break? Kasey Short Has Tips!
By Kasey Short
This school year was packed with uncertainty and new challenges. The transitions between remote, hybrid, and in-person teaching were mentally and physically exhausting.
More than ever, I am looking forward to summer break and time to relax and recharge.But after being consistently busy during the school year, it can be difficult for me to let myself relax. Maybe you also find this to be true.
Fortunately, I’ve found some things that help me feel truly energized for the upcoming year as the summer days pass quickly by. Maybe you’ll find a useful tip here.
Setting aside time each day to completely unplug from screens gives my eyes and brain a break. It also allows me to focus on person to person connections, clear my head, and enjoy the moment.
Removing or silencing the notifications for work email on my phone and setting up an out-of-office message during the summer helps me to disconnect and not feel obligated to immediately respond to emails or voicemail.
During the school year I have a plan for almost everything because it helps me balance my responsibilities and allows my professional and personal time to run smoothly. One of my favorite parts of summer is the flexibility to not have a plan for everything.
Leaving entire weeks unplanned in my summer allows the flexibility to wake up in the morning and decide with my children what we want to do for the day. Instead of rushing from one obligation to the next, it’s refreshing to think, “what do I want to do,” and then do it.
Invest in Relationships
Summer is a time where I can invest my undivided time and attention toward strengthening relationships with family and friends. Due to Covid there are good friends and extended family that I have not visited with in person in over a year, and I am looking forward to seeing them this summer.
I’m starting right now to make plans to see friends and family. I work with some of my best friends, and during the summer, it’s enjoyable to spend time with them outside of work in a relaxed environment. The bonus: it strengthens our working relationship, too.
Try New Things
The summer is my perfect time to try new things. I am always nervous to try something new, but afterwards I feel a little braver and there is a certain excitement that comes with new experiences.
Some ideas I have for trying new things this summer include: being a tourist in my own town and also exploring somewhere new; trying a new type of exercise class; going to new restaurants; cooking new recipes; and finding one thing that I am a little scared of and doing it (this summer it is white water rafting).
Embracing these types of new experiences outside of school also helps me feel more comfortable in the fall when I try new things in my classroom.
Spend Time in Nature
Being outside helps me relax, encourages me to disconnect from technology, and leaves me feeling refreshed. I make sure to spend time outside each day in the summer – going for a walk, spending time at the pool, eating a meal outside or sitting in the shade to read. I also planned a vacation this summer where I will spend much of our away time hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
Make Time to Move Yourself
Having extra time for exercise in the summer helps me to develop habits that I can try and continue once school starts back. I take at least 30 minutes each day to get in movement. Yoga, Pilates, walking, swimming, hiking, and jumping on the trampoline with my kids are all ways I fit movement into my day.
Last summer, I started incorporating yoga into my daily routine and found that it was so refreshing for my mind and body that I have kept up the routine throughout this stressful school year. This summer I am going incorporate rowing as a new exercise and see how I like it.
After being consistently busy during the school year, it feels indulgent to simply do nothing. I then remind myself that this is my vacation, I need this break, and I do not always have to be productive.
This summer I plan to indulge by diving into “beach reads,” sitting by the pool for hours, taking naps, going out for ice cream, eating dessert first, sleeping late, and generally trying to enjoy the moment instead of worrying about what is next on the to-do list.
Summer always seems to go by quickly, and it feels like one day I have months ahead and the next day it is August. This summer I am making a “summer bucket list” with my family on Day One. Everyone will write down anything and everything they hope to do this summer. There will be no pressure or expectation to check everything off the list but having the list will serve as a brainstorm for what to do on days we do not have plans.
I will do some light work. After a few days of summer, I start to reflect on the school year just past, brainstorm ideas of next year and formulate questions I am interested in exploring.
I have found that I have some of my best ideas during summer break, when my mind has time to wonder and relax.
I keep a running reflection journal where I jot down these ideas. That way I can remember them without feeling like I need to jump immediately into “work mode” and take immediate action.
Low Key PD
During the summer I don’t want an intensive professional development experience. But I do want to learn new things and examine resources that might spark ideas for the coming school year. So I devote some time to:
✻ Scan my favorite education Twitter accounts for resources, articles, and threads that interest me.
✻ Read articles from journals and blogs that are published over the summer or that I have saved during the school year to read later.
✻ Read new books written for middle grades students. This allows me to better grasp what authors and publishers understand about our current middle schoolers and build a stack of new recommendations for my own students.
Many of my friends are educators and our unplanned, informal conversations over the summer about pedagogy often end up sparking better ideas than any of our formal conversations during the school year. I’m especially looking forward to those chats!
Kasey Short (@shortisweet3) loves to share ideas from her classroom and writes frequently for MiddleWeb. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor of arts in middle school education with a concentration in English and history. She went on to earn a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Winthrop University. She is currently an eighth grade ELA teacher and English Department chair at Charlotte (NC) Country Day School.