Summer has begun and another academic year has officially ended…or as we exhausted educators like to say, “Tag parents! You’re it!”
Truth be told, May is always a bittersweet month for me and most educators alike. We’ve spent ten months with children, who subsequently become our babies.
We grow them socially, enrich their wealth of knowledge, guide their moral development and flat out come to love them. Then, just like that, we release them forward and onward into the next stage of their growth and learning journey, hoping that they carry with them all the tools we have equipped them with as they go.
It is an exhausting, trying and daunting task that educators take on vigilantly year after year. Working to deliver ever-changing state required standards, developmentally appropriate life skills and character building lessons with true discipline, dedication and compassion—you have to love it!
To all those who say, “At least you get the summer and holidays off,” I’m here to educate you. This time off is “recovery time”—and it is well-earned.
Plus, it’s not actually the sweet deal it may sound like. Most teachers spend their summers in professional development, training workshops, finally getting around to household to-do’s that never seemed to get done and, sadly, supplementing their income with a second job.
Oh, and don’t forget we’re also raising and teaching our own families who have patiently supported us during 10 months of late afternoons in the classroom, long weekends writing lesson plans and days when after giving to a group of 25 children (or more), we simply had very little left to bring home.
I teach kindergarten and this year, of all my 11 years, was my most challenging so far, largely due to the fact that my own daughter was completing Pre-K 4. Next year I will simultaneously teach five and six-year-olds all day, and then come home to a 5- and 6-year-old. Basically, I will always be at work!
I am a teacher, nurse, counselor, referee, negotiator, detective, comedian, party planner, motivator/coach, basic zookeeper of organized chaos and a single parent too!
All this being said, everyone knows you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, educators, I say to you it is imperative that you make the time this summer to get a refill. Too often we go straight from giving to our students and our school, to giving to our families, homes and preparing for the upcoming school year. Next thing you know, we blink and August is knocking at the door.
So here are my “Six Summer Tips” for teachers. Just some things I do in the summer months to restore my mind, body and soul for the fall season.
Read a Good Book or Two: Not lesson plan guides, not articles about standards and test scores, not data reports. Pure literary enjoyment!
Have a Cocktail…or Several: Take a night here and there to get dressed up and to sit and socialize with other adults, as you so rarely get to do during the school year.
Workout: Meditate at home, watch a yoga video on YouTube or attend a boot camp class! This is less about dieting and weight loss and more about renewing energy, centering yourself, building strength, refueling.
Binge Watch a Guilty Pleasure TV Show: Most of us barely have the time to watch prime time television during our academic year, and once we’re off, it's fun to watch something that doesn’t require many brain cells (Real Housewives, The Bachelor, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and 90 Day Fiancé to name a few).
"ME" Time: Get a massage, go for a walk, sit and have coffee or a meal in no rush to be anywhere else at all!
Follow One Passion: Design this, write that, take a class. Set yourself up for the next step and achieve some new goals while having fun and exploring your interests.
Have a great summer. Remember…August will be here before you know it!
Melissa Bagneris is a kindergarten teacher at Washington Elementary STEM School in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana where she is an active member of the school-wide positive behavior initiative system. She has been a participant teacher, as well as a lead teacher, in both the TAP and KAP summer readiness programs, and previously served as a remediation teacher for kindergarten through second grade at ...