With just a few precious days left with the kids I have gotten to call mine for the year, my body is bone-tired. I think we all are. Yet, my mind is eager, I am excited to send these kids off for summer, and yes, I am also excited for the next group of kids coming our way.
So within these last few days lies an incredible opportunity to grow. To prepare for the next year even if this year is not quite over. I have seen some great posts on things to reflect on as the year ends for so many of us and thought I would share what I plan on doing. Perhaps, you could use a few ideas yourself?
I plan on surveying my students. While our school does both a home and student survey, I also need to know what I can work on. Every year, the words of my students help me shape the experience to come. Every year, the words of my students help me grow as an educator. Don’t let the kids leave without helping you grow.
I plan on keeping certain experiences. Looking through the year and reflecting on what really worked, whether it was a lesson, an idea, or simply a moment, helps me think of the year to come. Don’t let this year end without you realizing what worked. Whether you go through lesson plans or simply write a bullet list, take note so that when the time comes for your ideas to come back, you have a place to start.
I plan on getting rid of certain lessons. While our experience inevitably changes year after year, there are also certain things that despite our best intentions simply didn’t work. So I am getting rid of them both physically and mentally. goodbye curation project! Goodbye identity journals! Goodbye to you so that I can make room for better things.
I plan on freshening up the room. In fact, I already did that. Last week, my husband and I moved all of our bookshelves so that I could reclaim the front of the room as part of our teaching area. It has made a huge difference to the feel of the room, how welcoming it looks. Why wait until next year? Try it out now and see how it feels.
I plan a focus. This summer, I get to both teach others and learn from others and so I need a focus. Where does my craft need to grow? Writing is what comes to mind, as well as the hard work of equity and social justice. And so I go to conferences with a few goals in mind. I read PD books with these goals in mind. I reflect, invent, and write down ideas with these few goals in mind. In the past, when I have had a broad focus, I feel I have learned little, but when I have a few questions in mind, such as how will I continue to help students understand their role in the world or how we will we create more joyful writing experiences, then I leave summer with a few tangible ideas that shape our experience together.
I plan a challenge. Every summer, I try to discover the work of new amazing leaders in education. One year it was educators like Val Brown, Dana Stachoviak, and Cornelius Minor, another it was diving into the work of We Need Diverse Books and figuring out how to work through my own biases and change the way I taught. Every year, I pick a challenge that will push my thinking, make me realize my own mistakes, and also help me become a better educator. It can be hard at times, but it is definitely worth taking the time to realize the gaping holes you have and then actually doing something about it.
I plan a break. Teaching is amazing, it is my favorite thing to do as far as work., but it is also exhausting, heartbreaking at times, and hard. So summer is time for a break, and not a kind of break where I still work, but one where I feel no guilt for not checking my email. Where I feel no guilt for reading whatever I want even if it is slightly trashy. Where I feel no guilt for not checking in, creating something, or coming up with new ideas. But you have to plan for it or it won’t happen. We know how consuming teaching can be, how it can spill into every part of summer, but don’t let it. Allow yourself to detach completely so that you can get excited. So that you can let ideas marinate in the back of your mind. So that you can remember what it means to have a life, if even for a little bit, outside of teaching. Because if you never leave, then you cannot get ready to come back.
Summer is a break. A much-needed one for many. But it is also an incredible time to become something more than what we ended as. To remember why we entered teaching. To get excited, to catch up on sleep, and to become the very best version that we can be of ourselves so that when September rolls around, or whenever our students come back, we can say, “I am so glad you are here,” and truly mean it.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.