More than ever, I seem to be bothered by the sarcastic comment "...YOU have summers off!" Usually this phrase follows any number of snarky statements such as "What a cake job you have..." or "You get paid for not working,..." or "Of course you are free,...", etc. etc. etc. Ugh! Drives me nuts!
Regardless of the negativity out there, summer is my favorite time of year - for a whole bunch of reasons that I will be sharing below. I must admit, I don't think I know a single educator who doesn't love this time of year:)
My definition of "Summers Off"
- Time to restore a healthy balance. This year I calculated how much time I spent beyond the school day doing school work. In the blog post, The Wasted Day!, I spoke about a healthy balance and in order to do so, I began to gather data on the number of hours I was working. I really wasn't prepared for just how many weekly hours I was putting in! Most weeks I was putting in 50-60 hours and some weeks closer to 70! While I love my job and giving my all for my students -- but truth be told, those hours are crazy!
- Time to get my stress level back in check. No matter what is done to de-stress during the school year, I can never outrun stress in this job as a school counselor. I was once told by a friend going through a medical crisis, that her doctor told her that our bodies are not made to maintain high levels of daily stress. Our bodies are made to deal with fight and flight responses during times of stress, not keep the adrenaline pumping day in and day out. It takes me about 2 weeks to decompress after the school year -- then I start to feel like I can breathe.
- Time to clear my mind. I don't know about you, but I welcome "mindless" during the summer months.
- Endless time to spend with family and friends. Summer is busy. Always something to do and people to see! These are the times that rejuvenate me because I can relax and not worry about the next crisis, lesson, or tricky situation! So fun to make plans for the random trip to the beach or Sesame Place with my sister's family, heading to NYC for the day with a dear friend, meeting up with friends for lunch and/or beverages...
- Time to reflect on the past school year and plan for the one to come. An educator's work is never finished. So, right around mid-July (actually when all the school stuff starts filling the shelves at the local stores), I begin thinking about the highlights from last school year and start to think about what the upcoming school year's highlight could be! First on the list is to tie up any loose ends as far as the school work from the prior year. Next, I begin thinking about what my introductory lesson and year's theme will be. For all who are wondering, I found my book and I'm just trying to finalize my approach. Will be sharing soon! This summer I am planning on figuring out how to do my mini-meetings via the I-Pad for quick data collection. I also want to finalize any other "tech" stuff for this coming school year. Finally, I begin thinking about my K-5 core curriculum and changes that need to be made, office set-up, organizational tools, and attending the Teacher Appreciation Days at Office Depot and Staples (FREE IS FOR ME)!
- Time to walk my dog, Izzy (when it is not 100 degrees). She loves going to the park and so do I. We make a couple of loops (exercise for us both) and then she gets to run like a maniac on the retractable leash! She has been missing this (I've been missing this) part of our summer routine - it's been so crazy hot, too dangerous to take a fur-ball out in this weather.
- Time to work in the yard. I love yard work! I may be hot and stinky sweaty -- but I feel like I'm accomplishing a lot that way! I'm out there either at 6:30 a.m. or after dark watering all the flowers and plants. In the morning opening up the deck umbrellas and closing in the evening before any evening thunderstorms. Plucking the dead heads off of the flowers, pulling any pesky weeds...it is quiet and leisurely.
- Time to leisurely wake-up in the morning, make myself a cup of coffee and read the newspaper (on the deck if not too scorching hot). There is no rush or hop-to. Even though I wake up (early) at the same time I do during the school year (via Izzy staring at me, dancing and tapping her nails, and her licks and hot breath), I'm not tired. Cereal, coffee, toast, orange juice - relaxing!
- Time to be creative and develop cool stuff I can use and do with my students. Summer is when I develop most of my crazy ideas. I might see something on Pinterest and tweak it for my purposes. I might read some great ideas on school counseling or other educational blogs and figure out how I could make that work in my situation. I'm looking for and creating fun stuff; stuff that will grab the student's interest and jump start their learning. If I have to make any props or materials, summer is the perfect time to do that.
- Vacation.The beach! It's my peaceful place. Quiet time, with my family and the dogs...shopping, walking, eating good stuff, swimming, etc. Love it! My vacation time is bitter sweet - when this vacation comes around it also means that summer is winding down.
- Time to clean. Time to clean my home closets, filing cabinet, pantry, garage, and other cabinets. It's too hot to go up in the attic and tackle that mess, so besides the garage, I stick to where it is air conditioned! A few days ago, it was time to part with the shoes that are so darn cute, but hurt my feet. They are in a bag ready to be donated. It is very gratifying to have a de-cluttered, neat and orderly space!
- Rejuvenate, recuperate, and re-energize to give my best for another school year. It is not easy to be a teacher or a school counselor in the United States today.I won't go through the list of what challenges will be facing us when we return to our schools in a few short weeks, but a number of these challenges are a direct result of budget cuts and teacher/school counselor layoffs. I am thankful to still have my job, but certainly the job doesn't get any easier. Summer is the time when I take the time I need to get myself together again so that I can begin another school year with a bang.
I hope you all doing what you need to do to have a fantastic "Summer Off" and are rejuvenating for the upcoming school year!