10 Things To Do This Summer

We go nonstop throughout the school year. Any teacher or person who works in a school knows this. It is so bad that everything else comes to a complete stop for the 180 days we're at work. I know I'm not the only one who has a long list of personal and professional things to get done, but I thought to give you some insight of things that I make sure to get done every summer before starting the next school year. This is especially helpful for first year teachers or if you're in a rut and don't know what to even do with yourself (like me the first 2 weeks of summer). I've centered these 10 things around what I get done first to get myself into summer and then transform my brain back into school-mode towards the end.

1. Take a few days to do absolutely nothing
I know this seems a bit self-explanatory, but if you're a teacher-mom or someone who loves staying busy, just take a day to be still. That means sitting in your house, PJ's on, doing whatever helps you relax (Netflix binging, reading a book, etc). Do not look around the house and think it needs to be cleaned. Don't go to the grocery store. Try to find somewhere for the kids to go. Be still, find your breath, let your mind relax. This will help you mentally and physically more than you can ever imagine. When we're in the world of go, go, go, sometimes you just need to sit and be worthless for a day. It's actually healthier than it sounds.

2. Complete a project around the house
It can be to paint a room or redo your bookshelf or plant a garden. It can be big or small. This is just something to remind you to focus on your home a little bit. If you're like me, it gets neglected during the school year and I always have some little things I want to accomplish during the summer. So while you're still fresh from your "doing nothing" for a few days, get some motivation for your house.

3. Schedule your doctor's appointments
The best time to visit the doctor is throughout the summer. Check in with your family doctor, dentist, optometrist, and other specialists. Now you're able to use your personal days for the fun stuff throughout the school year.

4. Read a book
Pick a book that interests you and get to reading! It can be a fun read or personal/professional growth book. I don't read a lot during the school year because as soon as I pick it up, I'm passing out because I'm just so exhausted all the time. I make sure to finish at least a couple of books each summer that fall under each category I list above. Currently this summer, my reading list includes:
Fun Read- Image result for I am malala
Personal Read- Image result for girl wash your face
Professional Read- Image result for teach like finland
Share other ideas in the comments if you've got some good reads!

5. Take a trip
While most people try to take a big trip over the summer, small trips are good for the soul too. Drive somewhere close and grab a hotel. Even if you've been there a thousand times, find something new to do there. I grew up near the Atlanta area and don't consider it a vacation, but each time I find something new to do and it's suddenly one of the best trips! Bigger trips are great too, but that takes months of advanced planning with a bit of money. Flights are most expensive during summer as well as hotel prices, unfortunately. But if you want a bigger trip but don't want to spend a lot, I always try to go places where I can stay with someone I know. Also, if you go to places where it's colder or isn't the best weather this time of year, it's much cheaper. My husband and I were suppose to go to Mexico in March during my spring break but got postponed after my car accident. When we went to re-book our flight for July, it was $800 cheaper! Sometimes you can get better deals in the summer after all.

6. Decide what worked and what you want to try
Slowly get back into school-mode by figuring out what you liked about last year and what you want to try next year. I often do this before the school year ends, but I get my brain wrapped around what I need to do to make these changes happen. The dreaded to-do list begins but I don't always feel the pressure to get everything done immediately. It just starts the creative side to come back out.

7. Make a map of your classroom setup
When you can get to go back into your classroom to set up is different for everyone. However, mapping out what you want it to look like and where things will go can be a great way to not waste time when you get back in your room. The map doesn't always work out because it's not true to scale, but figuring out where specific things will go is most helpful. Some things I think about when making my map is student movement. I keep all of my student's things together as much as possible. I think about when the students enter, where they will go to put their bookbag and grab their supplies. I don't want them walking around from corner to corner before they finally settle down. I think about the same thing when they exit and put the paper turn in area and laptop charging station close to each other. It helps with classroom management to set up my classroom this way and keeps the room organized.
If you're tech-savvy and want to make a map online, this website is fun to play around with your space. Just make sure you have your classroom dimensions to keep it true to size.
Image result for classroom map

8. Figure out your classroom schedule
As soon as you know the master schedule (lunch, specials, and recess times), make a classroom schedule. This will immediately ease your stress of what curriculum to teach and how you'll fit everything in. When making your schedule, go ahead and make your lesson plan template to get it all finalized at the same time.

9. Make & send a welcome letter
Just take a little look through Pinterest or TpT and you will find tons of welcome letter templates. The purpose of a welcome letter and sending it before school starts is not only to introduce yourself but to also show you care about the child coming into your classroom. It sets a positive tone for parents and students, plus kids love getting mail. If you've never done this, really consider it. Although this seems simple and something you can do early in the summer, most people don't get their class list until later in the summer. I do, however, try to knock out my welcome letter early and have it ready for when I get my list.

10. Plan the first 2 weeks of school
The first 2 weeks is the most stressful! There is an endless amount of things that get thrown at you those 2 weeks but also the week before you start back to school with professional trainings and meetings. So planning the first 2 weeks earlier in the summer is the very best! I also try to get my copying done while no one is there using the machines so the earlier I plan, the better. Some things I consider are:
-introducing rules and expectations (since I teach 5th grade, my kids love the meme PowerPoint I use to go over rules and expectations)
-getting to know you activities
-what they'll do when they first walk into the classroom while waiting for everyone else (I usually do some sort of "What did you do this summer" color/writing activity)
-how to organize supplies
-tour of the school and expectations in specific areas
-growth mindset lessons
-team building activities
I'll be writing another post about my first 2 week lesson plans once I get them more finalized, so stay tuned!

These little tips for your summer will lead to a nearly seamless start of the school year where you'll feel refreshed and healthy to handle it all for another year. Most importantly though, enjoy your time off. Don't overwhelm and do too much during the summer where you don't feel refreshed for the school year. Have some fun, try something new, and do something for yourself. You deserve it, teacher!