Have you signed up for The Educator’s Room Daily Newsletter? Click here and support independent journalism!
Does anyone else find themselves looking at the calendar and beginning to freak out that the end of summer break is approaching faster than a deadline for end-of-term grades I haven’t started to calculate?
Recently I watched “The 7 Stages of Summer Break for Teachers” by Bored Teachers and realized I had officially reached level 6, “Total Panic”! I am not sure if I will even make it to Stage 7, “Acceptance and Exhaustion”! So I have decided to add a new level I call Stage 8: “Holding my breath!” I didn’t even realize I was counting the days until I looked up and realized that August was the next week! I was unconsciously holding my breath like a toddler during a tantrum. I knew I would eventually have to breathe but found myself metaphorically turning red in defiance. My summer was slipping away!
I found myself forgetting to live each day because I was too busy anticipating the next. Meanwhile, I was inching closer and closer to that dreaded day when I had to knuckle down and begin planning for the new school year. I was on vacation with my family thinking about revamping my syllabus. I was at a teacher conference listening to teachers complaining about school starting soon and realized that would be me in just a few short weeks. I was forgetting to actually enjoy these last few weeks off and make the most of every moment. I was forgetting to just…breathe.
An End of Summer Reminder: Just Breathe Click To Tweet
Stop Counting the Days
I know teachers need to use summers for self-care, but I was counting the days until the new school year, almost from the beginning of break. Nine weeks turned into less than two months, and a month turned into mere weeks, until I eventually counted the days. I literally had to shake myself into a positive mindset and reflect on all I had accomplished this summer, particularly spending more time with my family. I had to be purposeful with each day, set a personal goal, and celebrate the small successes. The key was to make the goals “personal,” about family, friends, or “me” time. My attention shifted to planning my next mini-vacation with family, the next pedicure or massage, or even what show I planned on watching after my son’s bedtime. After all, there was no need to set alarms. I also reached the point about mid-July when I turned over the calendar. I spent about a week where I purposely did not look at the date, and if it weren’t for social media, I would not have even had any idea that we started in a few weeks. I vowed to stop counting the days and just…breathe.
Live in the Moment
Teachers, we are notorious for planning ahead. In reality, that is an integral part of our jobs. We have to stop approaching our personal lives like it is a lesson plan due to our administrators next week! We have to look at summer break for exactly what it is, a break! The number one suggestion in the article “Things Teachers Can Do to Recharge over the Summer” by the National Association for Music Education is brilliant: “Do Nothing!” The article reiterates my point that all teachers should “Do a complete 180-degree turn from our usual minute-by-minute planned day.” I did not accomplish many of my plans, and I had to learn to be ok with that. We must learn how to treat each day of summer break as a new and exciting experience. Just…breathe.
How can we expect to truly feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and recharged if we don’t rethink how we approach summer? Take it from someone who just realized that I was unconsciously holding my breath in the last week of July. My school will be fine. My classes will be fine. My students will be fine. My lesson plans will be fine. And yes, even my own son will be fine this upcoming school year. I have to let things work themselves out and try to enjoy these last few weeks. I am now making a concerted effort to let out an exhale that symbolizes my release of worry about things I cannot control. I can control every second, every moment, and every day left of this precious summer. Today, I am sending this letter to my fellow teacher and to myself. Let’s all choose to just…breathe.
Editor’s Note: If you enjoyed this article, please become a Patreon supporter by clicking here.