Are you using this summer to take a break? After a long school year, I find that I need to recharge my batteries but I am so bad at giving myself permission to take time for myself. I know it’s so important to explore new things or even simply relax, but for me, it’s hard to know where to start!
The science behind taking a break is well documented. It’s instrumental in enjoying your work, improving your performance and keeping your mind sharp. It even reduces stress and keeps your heart healthy! The Association of Psychological Science presented Sabine Sonnentag’s research at the University of Mannheim in an article detailing how taking a break is “essential to maintaining top performance”. In addition to the article, Sonnentag and Jana Kűhnel, a research assistant at the University of Ulm, conducted a study to learn how a two week vacation affected teachers. Before the break, the teachers surveyed reported feeling exhausted and “burnt out”. After the two weeks, they were less tired, more engaged and positive about their jobs.
As educators, we have the chance to unplug and reenergize every year. To help make the most of it, I’ve divided the summer into three pursuits:
- Relaxing Find time to truly relax and focus on activities you enjoy. Catch up on that book you have been dying to read, organize a dinner party with friends or take that hike or day trip you keep putting off. (Whatever you do, don’t even think about school!)
- Expanding your horizons Carve out time to learn something new. I’ve always wanted to learn coding and online programs which teach basic coding are just a click away. The 4 and 5 year olds in my classroom love using simple codes to help robots perform actions. Learning basic coding will help keep my mind sharp- and it will give me a boost of confidence when I’m working with my students in the fall. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try? Who knows, learning something new may even benefit your students!
- Gearing Up As summer winds down, I try to plan one last outing or activity before I get back into “school mode”. Often, it isn’t anything big or even expensive- sometimes it’s as simple as planning a “staycation” and playing tourist in my hometown. Then, it’s time to gear up for the year ahead. Start by thinking about the previous school year- what might you have done differently? How can you keep yourself from feeling burnt out again? What new program or approach will you add this year? Finally, make a plan and stick to it- don’t let yourself get caught up in the chaos of back to school.
I’d love to hear how you plan to spend your summer break. Maybe your ideas will help inspire something exciting for a fellow educator. Stay cool out there!