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Summer Recommendations for Teachers
posted by: Tamia | July 19, 2021, 10:04 PM   

Summers for teachers provide a well-needed break from the constant hustle and bustle of a school year full of the many moving parts of teaching. Anxieties about the next task dwindle as the school year gives way to a time for rest and reflection.

This year, the need to recharge is stronger than ever -- with teachers across the country having grappled with the impacts of COVID-19 on themselves, their students, and their profession.

As a majority of schools now move into the summer break, I offer four tips for how teachers can reflect, refresh, and re-energize to be physically and mentally prepared for the school year ahead.

  1. Listen to and act on your needs.

Teaching is demanding work. When on-campus, teachers are constantly on their feet, taking limited breaks, and constantly using their full focus to keep track of dozens of things at a time.Throughout distance learning, teachers across the country spent countless amounts of energy to recreate their lessons for the online environment and maintain communication with their students, families, and even fellow staff. Take time to reflect on your own physical, mental, and social needs -- and then act accordingly!

Take a self-care assessment like this one from Therapist Aid to plainly see what aspects of your life need more love and care. If life was a bit too hectic to get in regular exercise, nutritious meals, and simply time for hobbies without the weight of planning, grading, and teaching on your shoulders, take the time now to develop those habits and practices before the rush begins again in the fall. Realign your sleep schedule, put away your phone and e-mails, read those books you haven’t had the time to delve into, and spend time with yourself or the ones you love.

  1. Revisit and reflect on your systems.

Classroom management is making a comeback after some time away from the physical classroom. As you are leaving the 2020-21 school year behind, reflect on or develop your classroom management plan for the upcoming school year. Setting rules, boundaries, and expectations at the beginning of the year are critical to ensure that students have structure in their day-to-day life, which provides consistency and safety.

Safety guidelines in place in the fall may also require adjustments to your existing systems. If you have a list of your classroom procedures available, take the time to go through them and ask two critical questions:

  1. Was this system effective when it was last utilized? If no, how can it be improved?

  2. Will safety guidelines require an adjustment to this system? If yes, how will it need to be adjusted to adhere to the guidelines?

If you are a new teacher who is just getting started on classroom management, utilize lists like this one from Scholastic to develop your own systems for the fall.

  1. Extend your mental break.

The first two weeks of school are for introducing students to you, to each other, and to your classroom’s systems. After time away from an in-person environment, your students may need these first two weeks to redevelop social skills and build relationships with you and their peers.

With this in mind, develop a rough list of the basic content students will need to know to succeed in your class and a few community building activities that incorporate your subject matter. This list will help push back the mental weight that comes from having things constantly on your mind from returning too quickly after the summer ends.

If you want to take it one step further, you can lay out which order you will go over your systems and conduct the activities. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can start to develop the materials you need to do so. However, do not feel compelled to do so! Even a simple list can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with going back to school —especially after time away from campus and ongoing concerns regarding COVID-19.

  1. Plan with a specific goal in mind.

If you’re like me, the itch to plan never goes away, especially when the hectic schedule of the school year subsides. For the teachers who are already anticipating the fall, meet yourself halfway and plan with a specific goal in mind.

Identify what your greatest stressor is during the school year and start with tackling that issue. For example, if you’re a relatively new teacher (like me!), lesson planning is the most stressful, as I have not yet built up a repertoire of robust and effective lesson plans. In this case, set up the basic skeleton of the lesson plans for the first unit or two. If grading is always hounding you, develop a grading system that may make it easier. Perhaps create rubrics for classwork or schedule out a specific day to grade throughout the week.

No matter how you choose to spend your summer, what works for you is what is best for you. In this crucial time for students and educators across the country, we hope that this summer provides what you need to be prepared for the year ahead.


Today's guest blog is provided by Ashiley Lee, Leadership for Educational Equity Policy and Advocacy Fellow. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ashiley is a current middle school educator in her hometown, working with students and families in low-income communities to develop and provide a culturally relevant, trauma-informed, and transformative education. As a member of her school's Instructional Leadership Team, she has brought in a new social-emotional learning curriculum, education technology tools, and vertical articulation systems to improve student wellbeing and achievement.
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