If you made a face when you read that title, I hear you. I am ALL for teachers spending their summers sleeping in, going to the beach, and sipping tropical drinks by the pool, but the reality is that it’s really hard to turn off that teacher brain! Below I’ve shared some things I like to do during the summer to get ready for the next school year.
1. Catch Up On Reading
Summer is a great time to dive into all those new picture books and chapter books you’ve bought for your classroom library but haven’t had time to read! If you’re in need of some new titles, check out your local library summer reading lists and the ALA award winners from last year. Maybe throw in a professional development book in there, too… maybe. Hopefully you find a few new books you love for mentor texts, read alouds, and literature circles!
2. Do a Little Planning
If you’re one of those teachers who can’t help but do a little planning over the summer, you do you! Flushing out a couple of ideas now might make that back-to-school transition a little less painful come August. Grabbing lunch with your team to chat about the next year is also a fun way to tackle a little prep. My tip? Sign out your laptop at the end of the school year or find a way to have digital access to your files juuuuust in case you want them.
3. Sign Up for Professional Development
I wouldn’t go too crazy here, but there’s always some good trainings over the summer. In Virginia and DC, there are some awesome week-long immersive opportunities for teachers to really dig deep into a topic, especially in content areas like science and social studies. (Keep an eye out for announcements in the late winter and spring, since you often have to apply in advance for spots.) Now’s a good time to knock out a class for your recertification hours, too. If you don’t want to spend that much time on PD, you can find a 1- or 2-day conference, sign up for online classes, or join some Facebook teacher groups. My summer goal? Get my Level 1 Google Certified Educator certification done!
If you’ll be teaching new standards next year, or even a new grade level, you can also start looking things over and try to familiarize yourself with the content a bit so it’s not as overwhelming at go time.
4. Scope Out Field Trip Sites
Need to entertain your own kiddos during those long, hot summer days? Why not explore some sites that you might want to visit for a field trip? Museums, parks, historic sites, government facilities, farms, zoos, planetariums… the list goes on! Remember to bring your teacher ID badge since you might be able to get a discounted admission price!
5. Snag Some Deals
While there are some things I preferred to buy new for my classroom, I also loved to snag a good deal! Summer is a great time to hit yard sales to grab gently used books, board games, recess equipment, and even small furniture (think: flexible seating options). And of course, school supplies! All the pretty notebooks! All the flair pens! Here in Virginia we have a tax-free weekend in August. That’s a great time to buy school supplies and other qualifying items like clothes and shoes!
6. Envision Your Classroom Decor
Like wedding planning, Pinterest can be a dangerous, dangerous place to browse for classroom decor ideas! BUT it can also help you find a great new look that gets you excited to go back to school. Plus, it’s fun to browse pins while you’re poolside! Just don’t drive yourself crazy feeling like you have to have a Pinterest-perfect classroom. I certainly didn’t have one!
7. Reflect on Last Year and Look to the Year Ahead
At the end of each school year, I liked to jot down some notes about things I really liked or that went well during the year and things I knew I really wanted to change (if you bullet journal or have a personal blog, those are great places for this). I always gave my students end-of-year surveys to see what worked and didn’t from their perspective, too. Writing some notes while the previous school year was still fresh in my mind really helped me to focus on how I wanted to grow as an educator.
8. Get Your Side Hustle On
I almost don’t even want to add this one, because I don’t want to recommend that you work during your well-deserved time off! BUT we also need money to actually enjoy the summer, so here we go. I like tutoring during the summer. I can set my own hours, work with kids one-on-one, and stay connected to teaching but in a low-key, flexible way. I’ve also worked for my county doing summer curriculum development and found that to be really enjoyable. A few teacher friends of mine also waited tables or worked in retail. There are lots of options! Just maybe spend some of that extra cash on you and your family and not only on new classroom supplies, ha!
9. Most Importantly… Get In That Self-Care
You know how quickly those precious summer days fly by! And you won’t be good to anyone if you start the new school year already burnt out. I hope you plan some time for activities that help your relax and recharge, especially those that you might not have time for during the year, like trying a new exercise routine or learning how to meal plan. I know I’m much more excited to return to school if I’ve had some time to do me!
You might have noticed that I started and ended with things you can do to make yourself happy and enjoy your summer. It’s great to think ahead to the next school year, but not to the point where you start worrying and feeling anxious and not enjoying your time off. I definitely think there’s room for both a little sun and a little school. Hope you found these ideas helpful! If you want to share what you do to get ready over the summer, I’d love to hear it!