Every teacher knows that the summer recharge is critical. But after the last several years, we need to go hard on the “no.”
While there are, of course, plenty of activities I’m looking forward to, this year it’s more about what I’m NOT doing.
No matter what’s on your summer to-do list this year, I hope you will also join me in pledging to say no.
1. Fretting about the failings of this school year
Nope. Whether it was our own shortcoming or the faults of a system that doesn’t take care of its own, we’re not beating ourselves up this summer. Leave that baggage at the front desk and head for the pool party, my friend.
2. Reading any books I’m less-than-excited about
Say no to anything that feels like a chore to read. Treat yourself, whether that’s pop fiction, young adult novels, celebrity memoirs, or the well-worn fave you’ve already read a hundred times.
3. Drinking sad coffee
Gas station coffee is for September through May only. This summer, I either want coffee in my favorite ceramic mug at home, or iced coffee from the local shop where even the ice cubes are made of coffee, so it’s never watered down. I deserve good coffee during summer break—and so do you.
4. Keeping track of what day it is
What day is it? Not a school day!
5. Obsessing about next year
Certainly, summer offers a great time for us all to reflect on our craft and, in addition, contemplate changes we want to make next year. Still, as teachers, we all possess the ability to let the job crowd out other aspects of our life. A little bit of planning is good, but summer is also for catching up on the rest of our lives.
6. Watching half a movie
We’ve all done it. You start a movie in the evening, and midway through you either start checking your email inbox or dreading that 4 a.m. alarm. You say, “I’ll finish this tomorrow,” and before you know it, you’ve added another title to your mental graveyard of half-movies.
This summer, I’m going to finish the dang movie.
7. Teaching (or teaching-adjacent activities)
District sending emails about record low turnout of teachers for summer school? Nope. Not on that committee.
“Mandatory” professional development scheduled for a full two weeks off-contract? Sorry, I have surgery scheduled to repair my commitment gland.
Someone “voluntells” you to present at a conference requiring several days of prep? No. You have explosive diarrhea. In advance. (It’s a thing.)
8. Wearing hard clothes
Clothing I would consider hard: dress socks, closed-toed shoes, pants that aren’t notably soft or stretchy, and shirts that require ironing.
9. Ignoring my own kids for the betterment of someone else’s
Summer is about saying yes to my own kids. Yes, I’ll shoot hoops with you. Yes, I’ll read you another chapter at bedtime. Yes, I’ll play cards (even when you bend the rules).
10. Responding politely when someone disparages teachers
“Wish I had the summer off,” they’ll say.
“Yes,” I’ll tell them, “It is nice. I can feel myself recharging for another year of wondering whether this is the year I’ll have to be a human shield.”
I can smell the mountain air already. The sunshine warms my skin. I can also feel the promise of a couple of months focused on bettering myself rather than my students. I know summer break will make me a better teacher—and a better person—in the long run.