July Break Brings Teachers More Gifts Than Winter Break
A friend recently said someone suggested she become a teacher because, “After all, you only work from 8:00 to 3:00!” We shared quite a good laugh over that misconception. Perhaps that sentence might be closer to reality if that three o’clock referred to three o’clock in the morning, not in the afternoon.
Teachers put in very long days (and nights), and not just during the school year when the kids are in class. Teachers and educational administrators often finish their school year long after the students do. Many return just one day after school’s last day to begin summer school for another four to six weeks. Teachers also come back to school earlier than their students. In-service days begin in early August for many school districts.
This compressed time sandwich leaves just one precious month during which many teachers can carve out time to be “away” from school. The last half of the month of July is often the only extended break educators have during the year. No matter what else goes on in late July, that week at the lake, that long-overdue family visit, or that reduced-priced cruise, these weeks are also about rejuvenation, refueling, and processing for teachers.
The Process of Processing
Teaching is challenging on many levels. Teachers must balance and manage the curricular, political, educational, and organizational demands of teaching, all of which are tied up in a lovely bow of financial constraints for many. In addition, teachers also have the additional pressure of managing the growing social and emotional needs of the students. To meet all of these needs effectively during the school year, teachers need this precious time in July to step back, take a breath, and process all that went on during the last school year.
This is a time for teachers to recognize and act upon their own need for social and emotional support. Taking time to pause and reflect during this month helps many teachers gain perspective, set new goals, and return to school with a positive and refreshed point of view.
Getting Perspective from Many Angles
It goes without saying that every year, it takes eleven action-packed months for July to roll around. While other months may seem to crawl along, for many teachers the long-awaited July break flashes past all too quickly. By making a commitment to think about ways to find some perspective, you can slow down this feeling a bit. Just as you’d suggest your students do with a research project, the most successful ways to gain perspective revolve around having a plan and setting aside time to do a little bit of your own research about last year—and next year.
Here are some approaches that you might want to explore to find some perspective.
- Step Back, Jack! Some teachers turn it all off, not devoting even one moment of their break to thinking overtly about school, standards, students, or schedules. If this is your style, bravo. Stepping back can be a great way to rejuvenate. Even when your days feel completely absent of school thoughts, you’re probably doing a lot of processing and planning below the surface. Sometimes, stepping back from school issues allows you to return to these issues with a new point of view. Research indicates you can see a system most clearly when you are not a direct part of that system. By stepping back from school for part of July, you might see your school “system” through a new and different lens.
- Savor Your Veggies Many teachers pack a tote and take to the beach, the lake, the pool, or the park in July. Losing yourself in a terrific mystery or thumbing through a magazine in the late afternoon can be mid-summer luxuries. “Veg-ing” out can be just the ticket for you to regroup. Tuning out is sometimes a terrific way to truly tune in.
- And Now for Something Completely Different . . . Sometimes its great to spontaneously explore activities that are totally unrelated to your “day job.” Browsing new shops, walking new neighborhoods, or even ziplining are just a few ways to stimulate your mind in new and different ways. These activities can spark you to make new connections about your work in ways that could surprise you.
- Scribbles and Glimmers Another great way to slow down your July down time is to pause and pick up a pen. Capture your thoughts on paper, even if you only scratch out vague unformulated glimmers. Jot down ideas in a journal without worrying that you’re modeling accurate punctuation or sentence structure. These thoughts and ideas are just for you. Research to supports the theory that putting pen to actual paper provides more clarity than sitting at a keyboard.
- Just-Write Writing If you’re not sure where to start, quickly jot down ten school topics to explore. Then, cross out two and circle three favorites. This will help you to discover your personal point of view, to generate new ideas, or to just vent. Once you’ve prioritized your topics, just write. Use a Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How model or another thought-organizing structure that appeals to you. The key is to simply begin.
Non-Fattening Summer Treats
These rejuvenating ideas don’t require anything fancy. Sometimes though, opening a brand new notebook journal or tucking all your summer gear into a snazzy teacher tote can add a spring in your summer step. Teacher Peach shoppers have a few favorite summer products. If you’re on the hunt for a summer tote, check out the Spring into Summer Kit. With this kit, you not only get a vibrant green and black “Summer!” tote, you also get a summer journal, a “Write!” pencil, a Sharpie marker, and a stainless steel “Hydrate” water bottle.
If you’re off to the beach, let others know you teach and beach with the Teach/Beach towel set that reads, “Teach. It’s worth every ounce of effort.” and, “Beach. Savor every ounce of sunshine.” One set is vibrant lime green and royal blue and the other is red and black.
No matter where you find yourself this July, take along one of these awesome teacher journals with smooth, grid-patterned sheets. They’re ideal for writing, sketching, and list making.
While you have a little bit of extra time this July, check out teacherpeach.com and discover these really great teacher accessory products for really great teachers. Add your faves to your wish list while you have the chance! Let us know about your favorites, too, so we can be sure to continue to create products you love.
Whatever your July break plans may be, relax, breathe, and remember that Teacher Peach is one company that supports what teachers do—all year long. Teacher Peach is totally focused on creating really great products for really great teachers, 24/7, 365. Check it out.