Editor's Note: This blog was originally published on July 2, 2014.
S-U-M-M-E-R! It’s such a cherished time of year. But if you’re like me, it takes some time to recover from the frenzy of the last weeks of school. The stress that you’ve accumulated from those staggering weeks doesn’t just melt away.
All the same, the summer offers us an opportunity to deepen our knowledge, pedagogy and practice. I’ve compiled a few suggestions on how we can use some of the summer to rejuvenate and simultaneously reaffirm our commitment to teaching. Perhaps one or two will strike you!
- Spend some time thinking about the successes of this past school year. What were your most teachable moments? How did your classroom practice promote intergroup awareness? How did you encourage students to speak out against bias and injustice?
- Take care of yourself. Being present and focused in the classroom, especially when trying to balance academic and social emotional learning, takes a tremendous amount of energy. Now’s your chance to restore your energy so that you can return to the classroom refreshed and ready to connect with each of your students.
- Watch this TED talk on “flow” and then choose your own flow activity. In the classroom, we find ourselves multitasking almost 100 percent of the time. Conversely, activities that induce “flow” help us to put all of our attention into one place.
- Kind gestures can reaffirm and expand our sense of community. Choose something nice to do for someone else without expectation of return. Write a note a week, bring a treat to your neighbors, start a Pay It Forward campaign—whatever brings you joy!
- Learn! The summer is a great time to gain a deeper perspective on issues that challenge you as an educator and your students as learners and to stretch yourself as a practitioner. Consider drawing ideas from the TT blog, “Qualities of Innovative Educators.”
- Evaluate your classroom practice. According to Mohandas Gandhi, “If you can change your mind, you can change the world.” How much, then, can your thoughts empower your students and create a safe and affirming environment? See Teaching Tolerance’s “Critical Practices for Anti-bias Education” for inspiration.
- Set your intentions for the next school year. How can you promote an equitable learning environment? Will your school participate in Mix It Up? Choose a few intentions and then create measurable, actionable goals around these. That way, you can hit the ground running once school is back in session.
How do you plan to use the summer to rejuvenate and reflect upon your classroom practice?
Glenn serves as the Director of Programs at New Global Citizens, a non-profit committed to empowering students to become leaders, change agents and advocates to solve the world's greatest challenges.