Eight Teacher Tips for a More Efficient Summer
To work in the summer or not to work in the summer? Extremes often fail us. Summer working philosophies are no different. Over the years I have developed a few patterns and tips to help my summers give me real rest. These patterns and tips can help your summer feel productive and set you up for a successful school year without taking away from the rest you deserve.
1. Pick one day a week to work.
I always find myself more creative during the summer. I suppose it’s the absence of the million other things teachers have to do during the school year! Working one day a week allows your creativity to actually make its way into your classroom rather than just forgetting about it as the pressure of the school year starts. This rhythm also keeps you from spending ALL summer working. This time doesn’t have to be long. I would suggest just 2-4 hours a week.
2. Grab a fancy drink!
It seems small, but just like kids need routines, we need routines. Grabbing a fancy, happy drink before working helps you get in a frame of mind to be more productive but also you get a summer treat! Grab a dessert coffee, make a fancy juice, or put some fruit in your water! Really, it can make all the difference.
3. Decorate your classroom.
I love to decorate my room. I mean, it’s going to be your second home for 9 months so it might as well be a happy place. However, this area of our careers is often the first to go when things get crazy. Finding time in the summer to get things organized and happy is time well spent.
Something that is never wasted time as a teacher is organization. Organize all the things that just become a mess during the year. Those manipulatives that all got mixed together, your cardstock paper that is now just shoved in a bin. Making things organized in your “second home” can also help keep you from going insane during the year. And remember, bins are your friend!
5. Create systems you will use all year.
How will your students grab their workbooks? How will you record grades? What’s your plan for how you will communicate with parents? Starting the year with a system in place for these things means you aren’t having to use your brain power to manage logistics during the school year. Save all that brain power to instruct kids!
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6. Keep Summer Lists.
Not everyone likes to work during the summer so sometimes that means your creative juices are flowing but your coworkers aren’t readily available to plan with you. Don’t lose those ideas! Create a list of these kinds of ideas. A cumulative unit project, a school celebration, a cross-curricular idea. As the back-to-school season starts, you can send those emails to get planning started.
7. Make a list DURING the school year.
This takes some forward thinking but can help your summer work be productive. During this next school year, keep a list (mine stays in the front of my planner) of ideas you have for next year. Then, when summer hits, you have a list of productive things to work on.
This summer, my big one has been to prepare for my evaluation. I have been preparing my digital evaluation binder after keeping a paper binder for years. I still love the hard-copy binders, but with our new system, it is easier to upload for my administrators to view.
8. Hang out with your teacher besties!
This doesn’t have to be work focused at all. Just be with your education people. The more your education world feels like a community, the happier you will be, the happier your students will be, and the happier your school will be. Building relationships and deepening relationships will never be wasted time.