I, like most teachers, cherish my summer break. It’s a time of reflection. I often find myself asking what I feel I did right, what I could have done better and what I will do to improve myself and my lessons for the next year. Summer is also a time to sleep in, get caught up on chores around the house that have been neglected for the past 9 months and speak to/hang out with friends who have seen me much less than my students have.
I usually enjoy the first two weeks of summer break before I begin to go stir-crazy. I feel as if I have cabin fever! It is so disorienting to go from such a structured and perfectly planned out schedule to an “oh, it’s 2pm and I’m still in my pajamas? Hmmm… I suppose I should change… ” kind of schedule.
Usually during the third week of my summer I start to think about the next school year. I might go to a museum to get ideas, begin reading a book that will give me insight into my students and what makes them act like crazed lunatics (I teach middle school), or even attend conferences and trainings to stay current and up-to-date on what is new in the world of education. Regardless of what I am doing, I am always thinking about teaching and education in one way or another.
Then, alas, August 1st arrives and the end of summer feels right around the corner. Usually, my back-to-school routine is the same: I stroll through countless school supply aisles perusing the various types of pens, pencils, paper, post-it notes and other stationary items only to go for the same items I tend to buy, which always includes my beloved felt-tip pens for grading (which are the best in my opinion as they dry fast, don’t smear and come in a variety of friendly colors. Red feels a bit harsh to me).
I order my planning book for the year (I have a very specific one I like to use that includes inspirational quotes about teaching (always a good reminder for staying positive!), and typically start marking off holidays and other important dates.
I also, almost every year, re-read a book called “The Primal Teen” By Barbara Strauch which is an excellent reminder about teen psychology and how to deal with/interact with them.
And of course, before I go back to my actual classroom, I watch movies that remind me why I teach; the kind of movies that make you cry, make you want to be a better teacher, and make you want to call that amazing teacher from 4th grade who made you feel like you really were a special kid who could grow up to be anything and do anything. My number one favorite movie for this is: The Ron Clark Story starring Matthew Perry. This was a made for TV movie (don’t judge!) and it gets me every time! I also love that it’s streaming on Netflix, so if I need a mid-year pick-me-up I can just click it and watch it for an instant mood booster.
I strongly recommend that you find a good movie that will help you mentally prepare for the school year, there are so many good ones out there: Mr. Holland’s Opus, Freedom Writers, Stand and Deliver and so many more! You can even go down the comedy route with a movie like School of Rock! Whatever the movie is, find one that works for you and watch it as part of your let’s-get-pumped-up routine before (or during) the school year.
I hope that my blog can serve as a respite for you when you are struggling or as a source of inspiration. Best of luck in the new year!
-The Ardent Teacher