In the life of a teacher, there is something about the last day of school that simply cannot be equaled. It is more than that feeling of accomplishment you get when saying goodbye to a group of students. It is the reminder that you are not “just” a teacher – you are a human being and the next 2 (or 3) months are for you get to hang up your “teacher hat,” and put on your sun hat. Or headband. Or messy bun. Or whatever.
There are teachers I know who have taught summer school every year of their career. I have mad respect for those teachers. I am not that person. I have not worked one single summer since I entered the teaching profession in 2001. I scrimped and saved throughout each year to guarantee that I could be job-free for a few, glorious months. I’d like to say I used the summertime to refine my skills by taking classes. Or that I read endless supplies of professional development books to hone my craft. I didn’t. And I didn’t pour over Pinterest to get a head start on classroom décor. And I didn’t attend trainings to learn a new curriculum. And I definitely didn’t miss the sound of my alarm clock or the stacks of papers waiting for me at the end of each day.
I’ll tell you what I DID do. I had lunches. Lots of lunches. I became a “lady who lunches.” I caught up with my friends who have the types of jobs where they get more than 15 minutes to scarf down a sandwich. I went to the gym. I went on hikes. I tried out new recipes. I read books – fiction books. Books that never won awards. I hung out by the pool. I took baths. I took vacations and staycations. I watched an entire Netflix series. I stayed up past my normal bedtime. I did fun things with my family that are too hard to pack into weeknights during the school year. I FED MY SOUL.
As teachers, it takes a lot of energy to be “on” all the time. It takes time to reboot. We use the summer to take a step back and remember why we got into this gig in the first place. We all do this in different ways. Some of us are reinvigorated when we read some great PD, while others of us (me! me!) need some honest-to-goodness “away” time.
The other day I ran into my neighbors. After a brief chat I mentioned the number of days I had left before my summer vacation. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job. But I’m pretty sure that my smile was huge when I rattled off the number of days I had remaining before the celebration. They expressed their excitement for me. The female neighbor said, “That is so awesome. I’ll never know what it’s like to have a summer off.” And I thought to myself – wow. I really am lucky. And I am going to enjoy every minute of my vacation. I’ve earned it. And so have all of you. And even if life gets in the way and there are bills to be paid, kids to take care of, house projects to do, and on and on – remember to renew yourself, as much as possible. Your future students will be thankful to have the best, most refreshed version of you.
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