Let’s chat about how FAST summer flies by! Sometimes, (okay all of the time) we get so busy over the summer that we BLINK and suddenly it’s August 1st. I distinctly remember several August 1st days in my career when I said to myself, “I didn’t get anything done that I wanted to this summer! Where did time go?” I would spent the next three weeks frantically trying to scramble to put different pieces of content and instructional changes together for the new school year.
What if I told you that I’m here to help this summer? What if I told you that you CAN make positive, intentional changes and decisions for your classroom AND enjoy all of your time to relax? In this post, I’ve shared five common mistakes teachers make throughout the summer when it comes to tackling their teaching to-do list! Let’s dive in.
#1: The “Where Did My Summer Go and Now What?” Mistake
During the month of May, you had all kinds of ambitious ideas of things you wanted to change, alter, tweak, or add for next school year. On the last day of school, you got home, threw your teaching bag into the closet, and fell asleep by 7:30 pm on a Friday night. All you really want to do is binge a show on Netflix, sleep in, and not worry about school. Before you do that, though, I want you to avoid the mistake of forgetting all of that precious reflecting you’ve been doing. Taking just 10 minutes right now to reflect on the school year you just completed will help you to prioritize your goals for next year, and allow you to have a plan in place for your teaching. If you wait until August to think about what you want to change, there is a high possibility that you will be too busy to focus on what you feel you truly need. It’s better to think about these things right now – while it’s still fresh in your mind and your heart.
What I don’t want is for you to scramble to find just ANYTHING that feels “different” or “new” on August 1st. Different and new is great – but only if it doesn’t distract us from the areas of instruction and curriculum that we know need to be addressed. This quote is always on my mind at the end of the year: “If we keep doing what we have always done, we’re going to get the same results.” Making the time NOW to reflect on things that went well and areas we can improve is one of the secrets to a great educator. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses benefits our students and our effectiveness in the classroom.
To help you reflect on your school year so that you know exactly what you need and want to focus on this summer or in the fall, I’ve created a simple Teacher Reflection Sheet. For each of the four areas: organization, management, instruction, and content, list a GLOW and a GROW.
A glow is something you are rocking at! Reflect and think about what went really well this year, and jot it down beside the sunshine graphic. This is something that is GLOWING. What are you most confident in for each area? After you write it down, you should be able to look at it and think, “Yeah….I rock at that!”
A grow can be something you need to improve on, something new you want to try, or something you need to figure out. Think about what you would like to change, alter, or focus on next year. Maybe something you did was great, but you know it could have been better. Maybe your transitions didn’t flow as well as you would have liked. Maybe you felt like you spent more time preparing morning work than it took the kids to DO the morning work. Maybe the end of the day was always crazy and you know you need something to help with routine and organization.
You can snag this FREE Teacher Reflection Guide by clicking below
#2: The “I Should Have Looked That Up” Mistake
During the school year, it can be HARD to find time to read professional development books. We have a million other things to attend to and when we come home, we have families to take care of and that thing called sleep. During the summer, however, we are blessed with some time to dive into the professional development books of our choice. I encourage you to take advantage of the extra time you have this summer and pick out a professional development book that aligns with one of the GROW statements you jotted down in the reflection sheet.
Need some suggestions? Whether you’re just starting your science of reading journey, or if you’re continuing your science of reading journey, I have a great blog post that shares a ton of professional books and podcasts that I personally love!
If you’ve read all of the books in the post above, you can check out the list below to see which titles I have on my list for this summer! I’m a HUGE professional development book nerd, so these are just a few that I have in a pile on my desk! The book links below are Amazon Affiliate links. This just means that Amazon tosses a few cents my way – at no extra cost to you – if you purchase the book through the following links.)
#3: The “I’m not motivated” mindset Mistake
Do you ever have times that you just feel utterly drained and emotionally “checked out” from teaching? (I bet we all have our hands raised right now.) First, let me remind you that you are an incredible educator. Second, let me also remind you that it is okay to feel “done” with the school year. It doesn’t make you a bad teacher or a teacher who doesn’t love this profession anymore. It makes you human.
Over my years in education, I’ve discovered a “secret” to keeping a fire going in my heart for our profession: conferences. Whether they are in-person or virtual conferences, they always leave me feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, inspired, and MOTIVATED! Hearing and learning about new ideas, research, and strategies to bring back to my classroom fills me with a sense of excitement that makes me remember my “why”. If you’re interested in some amazing virtual conferences this summer, I’m presenting at TWO of them! Click below to learn more about the Elevate Virtual 2023 conference and The Educator Summit’s Virtual Conference.
#4 The “My Room Looks Cute! Wait, I Have To Teach This Year?” Mistake
For this common mistake, I’m going to tell you a story! The picture above is a literacy coaching office that I never actually used. LONG ago, I was scheduled to teach first grade in the afternoon, while another teacher taught math in the morning. During the morning, I was to be a literacy coach for the building. The woman I was supposed to co-teach with ended up going to a different district a couple weeks shy of the first day of school. Plans changed quickly, and I was suddenly teaching full-time first grade again – and coaching during my planning time! That was the year I got pregnant, and I had to finally admit that I was just too exhausted and sick to be teaching all day with no planning, and working on blogging and coaching/data issues in the evenings. I eventually stopped the literacy coaching plan that year and returned to solely teaching first grade again. I would go on to teach first grade for another six years before I transitioned to a coaching position again. Why am I sharing this (now ancient) story with you?
Plans change quickly in education. I had spent that whole summer having WAY too much fun decorating and finding things for my cute little office for the fall. After I found out I was teaching full-time first grade again, I was suddenly a bit overwhelmed in all of the content and instructional issues I had failed to pay attention to during the spring and summer months. Had I first focused on content, I would have felt more prepared once the school year started. My point to this story is to learn from my mistake: “Content and instructional practices should always come first.” If you’re a new teacher – trust us, we understand. Setting up your classroom is something you’ve always dreamed of. You can still love that process- but please, please focus on the actual content and resources you will be teaching before you get caught up in decor details.
#5: The “It’s The First Day of School and I’m Already Tired” Mistake
The final mistake that I often see teachers make is not taking ANY time to relax and re-energize for the coming school year. I know that is easier said than done. You have families to take care, kids to chauffeur from activity to activity, and the GROW statements I just had you reflect on, right? However, I completely believe that you can find at least 10 minutes here and there to relax and find time for you. It may be getting up 10 minutes earlier or deciding that the vacuum can wait until tomorrow. Nevertheless, carving some “me” time out will make you a much happier, healthier, and energized teacher in the fall.
Here are some ideas for you:
- Read a book
- Take a walk
- Take a nap
- Savor a cup of coffee or tea
- Have a picnic with your kids
- See a movie
- Sit on the couch and do nothing
- Have a hot breakfast (since that doesn’t often happen during the school year!)
- Have lunch with a friend
- Sit in the sun and rest
It’s easy to let the summer slip away from us. Keeping these five ideas in mind will, I hope, help you to keep your goals and “grow” areas in mind and in focus. Doing so will allow you to start the new year off with a solid plan in place for your classroom. You will feel accomplished in knowing you are making the changes and alterations that are benefiting you as an educator, your classroom, and most importantly, your students.
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