The teaching profession often requires an intense level of personal investment, time, and dedication. Consequently, it can be difficult to step away even for a few summer months. As a teacher, you maintain a demanding and steady pace during the school year. Therefore, your mind will inevitably require time to recharge. Regretfully, the busier your schedule gets, the easier it can become to skip over the recharging process of your journey from school year to school year. As summer approaches, it’s the perfect time to try out self-care techniques that can carry you into next school year.
What is Self-Care?
Time of rest and recuperation is part of what we call teacher self-care. Quite simply, self-care is the practice of taking actions to improve and sustain your own health. Below, we walk you through four ways to participate in self-care techniques to rejuvenate you for the school year to come.
Take Care of Yourself — Your Students Need the Best You
Teachers’ hours are not always conducive for making appointments, and weekend time is not easily sacrificed, especially with grading to do, children to care for, or weekend hobbies. So, when do you take time for your health, a crucial piece of your self-care? Summer can be an excellent time to catch up on annual appointments, as well as implement healthier habits. Research indicates that working out regularly can help relieve stress, increase brain power, reduce health risks, and enhance positive outlook — there’s even research specific to exercise for educators! Utilize the flexibility of summer to become mindful of your health and begin making a habit of techniques and routines that can be carried over to next school year. Taking just thirty minutes after a school day to exercise can be a great outlet to release energy or frustration that may have built up during the school day. Your students need a teacher who is physically, mentally and emotionally present, taking time for your health allows you to meet that need.
Don’t Assign Yourself Extra Homework
We know you’re great at gauging exactly how much homework students need to succeed. However, many teachers expect so much of themselves, and therefore continuously assign themselves homework (extra meetings, volunteer opportunities, groups, professional development) until they become overwhelmed and spread too thin. How do you know if you have spread yourself too thin? See if any of the statements below resonate with you, if they do, chances are it is time to cut back as an act of self-care.
“I miss out on opportunities in my personal life and work life that are important to me.”
“I never have enough time, I am never caught up, and I can’t relax.”
“I no longer feel passionate about my job or the tasks I am involved in.”
Self-care encompasses your mental health as well as your physical health. Consider taking time over the summer to give yourself this homework assignment instead:
This summer, your assignment is too narrow in on the points of involvement that still bring you joy and remove yourself from the others. Once that is done, disconnect, detach, and take a break.
Taking a break from your computer, email and school year habits can be extremely difficult, but doing so could help you reconnect with yourself and family around you. Utilize your vacation time for rest, and recuperation. Sooner than you think, you will be back for another meaningful school year.
Build Joy Into Your Schedule
Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” Closing out the school year is a giant achievement for any teacher, summer is the time to channel your creative energies through activities that bring you joy. Taking time for activities that spark creativity and bring joy are an excellent source of self-care. It can be beneficial to make a list of all the happiest activities in your life. Start with big things like taking a vacation and work your way down to smaller things such as reading a book. Every teacher has different passions outside of education. Narrow in on those passions and pencil them into your summer plans. If reading in your free time sparks joy for you, check out this list of 17 Books for Teachers’ Summer Reading Lists.
Go Ahead & Get Excited
Building professional development into your schedule during the school year can be difficult. So, finding professional growth and development opportunities over summer break can be a great, low impact way of balancing relaxation with work engagement. Below are a few suggestions for getting ahead over summer and excited for the school year to come.
- Engage in Twitter Chats with fellow educators (We host several every year at @McGrawHillK12)
- Line up a class guest speaker for next year
- Find new, engaging supplemental materials
- Get organized!
Looking for more ways to get ahead? Check out this list of 12 Low Cost Professional Development Ideas for Summer Break. Another way to begin growing your excitement for next year is to create a scrapbook of memories from this year.
“Not only do moments of collective emotion remind us of what is possible between people, but they also remind us of what is true about the human spirit.” -Brene Brown
When teachers take on a growth mindset, remind themselves of the possible, and allow it to fill them with passion, they can carry that passion through summer and into the classroom.
Looking for more teacher self-care or summer resources or interested in guest blogging for McGraw-Hill during your break? Check out the links below.