Lounge. You know that first Sunday you have off in a while, where you don’t get out of bed if you can help it? And you DEFINITELY don’t get out of your PJ’s, even if you leave the house? Yeah, that was the first 3-5 days of summer. Exhausted, burnt out, and a little bit pissed off over the last-minute shit shows of the year, I mostly watched Friends on Neflix.
Every household chore. When you’re grading 60 final essays and trying to decide the best way to keep the fleeting attention of teenagers, your fridge fills up with take out boxes, your bathtub gets a ring, and the carpet grows it’s own wig. Those situations become REALLY obvious when you’re at home those first 3-5 lounge days.
Reconnect with the family. I don’t think I saw my son during the last week of school. Seriously, between the tests, and the grading, and the sheer drama of it all, I was up early and home late. If by some miracle I made it home, all I wanted to do was crash. He was surprised to see me when summer started – like, “you’re still around?” I kid, but it definitely felt like this some days.
Cram ALL THE FUN into summer. Vacations, stay-cations, all the home projects, and all those things you SAY you want to do (the zoo, that new aquarium, a play, one of the museums you hear so much about.) Yeah, those things don’t get done during the school year. Let’s go people, gotta have some fun RIGHT NOW.
Professional Development. I think it’s hard for any teacher to really, truly “put away” teaching for a whole summer. I’m currently reading three different teaching books (teaching books, I’ve got another three ‘fun’ titles,) keeping up to date on teacher blogs and online communities, and researching how in the hell I’m going to get my master’s. We want to get better at what we do.
Figure out how to make more money. The statistics vary (A LOT, by time and by state,) but roughly half of all teachers work a second job over the summer. I worked summer school. I know others who do private lessons or tutoring. Some go for retail. Bartending is a common one, I know another who worked for Kohl’s.
Survive the nightmares. When I was in school, I had test nightmares: show up for a test you’ve never studied for. When I was in theatre, I had theatre nightmares: on stage for a play I’ve never rehearsed, usually in my underwear. When I waited tables, I had restaurant nightmares: too many tables, angry customers, no food. Now I have teaching nightmares: it’s the first day of school and I have nothing planned, and I may or may not be wearing clothes.
Plan next year. You cannot show up on the first day of school and just “wing it.” Seriously, I dare you. I’m not just talking about the lesson plan, although that takes up an inordinate amount of time. You have to plan your discipline process and your curriculum (long and short term goals/materials/tests.) You have to design your room layout and count your school supplies. If you’re a new teacher, this process takes longer. If you’re working in a new building, or with a new grade, or with a different administrator, ALL of these things take additional planning. Trust me, the 2.5 days you get in August before students show up… it’s just not enough time to fully get the job done.
Suck it up and go back and do it all over again (hopefully a little bit better, because that’s the point, isn’t it?) But for now, I’m trying (TRYING) to enjoy this little slice of break.