You may think that, as a teacher looking to recharge your proverbial “batteries” this summer, the best thing to do is to stay far away from the activities you’ve been doing all school year.
But what if that’s not actually the best way to reinvigorate yourself for the next school year?
What if, instead of keeping your mind off of teaching, you lean into it, but in a fresh way that sort of cleanses your mental palette?
Here are 5 counterintuitive activities that educators can do to recharge over the summer by approaching the “same-old, same-old” in fresh ways.
1. Go to class (as a student).
Why not turn the tables and be a student for a couple of months? In addition to learning something new and fun — cooking, yoga, rock climbing, writing… you name it, you can sign up to learn about it — the experience of stepping into the role of student for a change may also help to adjust your perspective and shed the stress that comes from being the one in charge of teaching for an entire school year.
2. Teach (abroad).
Many teachers are torn between, on one hand, making extra money over the summer and, on the other, traveling. But why not do both?
A little bit of research will present you with no shortage of programs that feature short-term gigs for teaching abroad. While more teaching may not seem reinvigorating on the surface, you could be surprised by how a different system in a different culture makes you see the job of teaching as the new, exciting endeavor it was when you first started out.
Plus, did we mention the part about getting to travel abroad?!
3. Read a book (that doesn’t cater to kids).
Did you know that there are books out there that were never intended for teenagers, and instead were written for intelligent adults like yourself? No, really. It’s not a myth. We’ve seen them with our own eyes.
Even if reading isn’t your go-to leisure activity, it may be worth it to read at least one book that’s meant for grown-ups. Think of it as actively cleansing your palette after a school year of reading / teaching / working with those same books that you’ve been dealing with for years, and that are geared toward kids and students.
4. Work with kids (who need your help).
As a teacher, part of your job is to sometimes deal with students who… let’s just say “aren’t thrilled” to be at school. Even though you know that it comes with the territory, it can be challenging and, at times, plainly frustrating.
So, it may be worth volunteering for a charity or program that in some way helps kids. In addition to the obvious benefits that such charitable work offers to those who need the kindness of others, you, too, will benefit.
You not only will be performing a noble and necessary deed to help others, in turn making yourself feel generally good, but you also will be in a better mindset for dealing with any challenging students the following school year.
By spending your time around school-aged young people who truly want to be there and who want and need your help, you will feel any residual frustration from last school year melt away. They will be happy to see you, and you will be happy to see them (and to see your students next year).
5. Set your alarm (and then laugh at it).
We can hear you cringing from here, but follow us on this…
During the school year, you have to set your alarm for early in the morning. Then, at school, you spend the entire day at the mercy of repeated and unrelenting bells. When the bell sounds, you and everyone around you rush to do the next thing that you’re supposed to do (go to the next class, put away papers and get out new ones, etc.). It’s downright Pavlovian.
So, just for fun this summer, why not set your alarm? OK, OK. We know. But hear us out.
Set the alarm on your phone to go off at some arbitrary time in the afternoon. And when it does, shut it off and go about your day just as you were. That will help you to break the cycle of feeling as though you constantly need to be somewhere or do something, and will help you to relax more deeply throughout the summer.