By Julie Rine, Minerva Local Education Association
The 4th of July is over; are you feeling the hot whips of panic? The 4th of July is a day to celebrate America’s independence, but teachers know it as “the beginning of the end” of our independence. The worst feeling is going to back school feeling as if you’ve not fully taken advantage of the summer.
We teachers hate it when people outside of education say “It must be nice to have your whole summer off”, but let’s be frank; even though we have less time than the general public thinks we have and we spend much of that time engaged in school work of some sort, we do have more freedom than the average person has during the summer. Each summer seems to fly by faster than the last, but take heart. If you feel like your summer is slipping away, it’s not too late to have some fun and get some tasks accomplished. Here are a few suggestions for making your summer full and productive, so you can feel refreshed and ready to tackle the new school year knowing you had a truly good summer.
#12. Go to a concert, preferably an outdoors one.
Many musicians tour during the summer months, and you have the luxury of going on a weeknight without worrying about getting up early for work in the morning! Whether you relive your youth with an older group or check out a new act or even a symphony orchestra, make music a part of your summer.
#11. Read a book recommended by a friend.
Pick a book that you wouldn’t choose for yourself. Being an English teacher, I always have a LONG list of books I want to read over the summer, but some of the best ones I’ve read are ones I would never have selected on my own. And even if you don’t end up loving the book, it might help you empathize with your students. At some point we will ask them to do or read something that wouldn’t be their first choice; let’s remind ourselves what that’s like. (And if you find yourself in Columbus at all this summer and you haven’t yet discovered The Book Loft in German Village, set aside a few hours and explore this incredibly awesome bookstore. It’s 32 rooms of books!).
#10. Clean out a drawer or closet.
If you get your junk drawer or silverware drawer organized and clean, every time you open it you will be reminded that you did SOMETHING this summer besides binge on Netflix. If you get truly motivated, clean out a closet. Starting the school year with a closet that holds only clothes you truly wear, and not clothes that live in the “I Have a Dream” section (clothes that I might fit into again someday!), or the “I know I’ll find an occasion to wear this” section, will make going back to school much simpler and easier.
#9. Take a trip to a museum that you’ve never visited.
One of the places on my list to see this summer is the Troll Hole Museum in Alliance, Ohio, just 25 minutes from my house. I didn’t even know this place existed until I saw an article on Facebook. This quirky museum apparently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest troll collection. Now I don’t have a special affinity for troll dolls, but this just seems like something I need to see for myself. One of my favorite museums is the James Thurber House in Columbus. If you haven’t been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, you’re really missing out. Ohio is also home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, of course, as well as five different presidents’ homes/museums and the National First Ladies Historical Site. There are science museums in Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Chances are there is at least one museum within a few hours of your home that would interest you. Take a day to check one out.
#8. Buy a Christmas present.
I know some of you super organized shoppers are saying, “Just one?” Hey, if you’re organized enough to get all of your Christmas shopping done during your time off, more power to you! But even if you just buy one present, in September you’ll be able to say, “I’ve started my Christmas shopping”. Trust me, it’s a good feeling.
#7. Try a new activity with your kids.
My daughter and I went geocaching for the first time this summer. We love it! It gets us out of the house and gives us a chance to spend time together using a screen for something other than TV and games. A friend of mine and her kids choose something to rank every summer, like “best places to have a picnic”, or “best parks”. They choose factors to analyze, make visits to several local vacations over the course of the summer, and then report the results on Facebook. Relatively cheap and easy family fun.
#6. Spend a day doing professional development.
Even if you’re in a situation where professional development is not a necessity to renew your license or get a higher degree, spending at least a day or two learning new methods or content can really be really energizing. Without the pressure of papers to grade, lessons to plan, parents to call and other tasks we must do during the school year, your brain is free to really soak in the new material. I find myself much more able to focus on new ideas and resources when I am not distracted by the long to-do list on my desk.
#5. Cook some new recipes.
Since you have the luxury of extra time, you could try cooking a truly elaborate, multi-step gourmet meal. I like to try a few recipes that are fast and easy to throw together, so I have some new meals to add to the mix once the craziness of school starts and time becomes a hot commodity. Along those same lines, we like to try a new pizza place during the summer. Because there are a lot of them, and, you know, PIZZA. Can’t go wrong there.
#4. Go see a movie!
There is simply nothing better on a hot, humid summer day than seeing a movie on the big screen. Once school starts, I rarely have time to see a movie in the theater, but during the summer, I can see new-releases the day they come out. Take advantage of being able to see the matinees, which have fewer people and cheaper ticket prices.
#3. Write or find a new lesson or unit plan.
Teachers at the beginning of their careers or with new preps will probably have to spend a lot of time doing this out of necessity, but if you’re a veteran teacher, it’s easy to fall into a rut and teach the same content in the same way. I have found that taking the time during the summer to figure out a new way to present even one lesson helps me go back to school with a little more anticipation and excitement. There are tons of good websites with free lesson plans and resources for teachers, and I never have time to check them out once school starts. Some sites allow teachers to sell original lesson plans, so if you write your own new lesson plan, take the time to upload it and make a few dollars while you’re at it.
#2. Get your hands on some fair food.
In our house, it’s not summer until we’ve had fair fries and lemonade at the local homecoming. This is a small town affair; if you are so inclined, get your goodies at your county fair or even the state fair. But by all means, get some of that fresh lemonade and French waffles or fries. It’s pretty mandatory in the list of summer activities. You don’t even have to go on rides or walk through the buildings; there’s no shame in popping in just to get the fair food fix.
Above all, if you do nothing else,
Watch Netflix or read a book for fun. (Rainy days are especially great for this). If you do this every day, you might feel as if you have wasted your summer. But hey, it IS summer, and you worked overtime for nine months. So once in awhile, get your favorite junk food and find your comfiest chair or sofa and settle in for a day of mindless entertainment. You deserve it. In fact, the ladies of Litchfield are waiting for me to check in with them now.
I’m sure you have your own must-do list for a truly good summer. What activities make your summer successful?