Educators look forward, as most people do, to summer vacation and the end of the academic year. Who wouldn’t embrace a reprieve?
But for many educators, the initial respite of summer break falls way to anxiety and summer blues. Many of us rely on a regular schedule (and for adjuncts, a paycheck) and summer is a time when rigor falls to the wayside. After a week or two of sleeping in and having agenda-free days, what then? We’re so busy cultivating learning for our students all year round, it’s a big paradigm shift to turn that nurturing inward.
Without self-care, we can’t be the teachers we want to be to our students.
Bottom line: the transition is real.
So how can educators make the transition into a long academic break easier on ourselves?
- Give Yourself Permission to Rest: It’s okay to sit and lick your wounds and rejuvenate after spending an academic year giving to others. Sleep in. Eat well. Have leisurely mornings. Savor moments. Read the book you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t had time to read. Binge watch all the television shows you’ve put off watching. Rent an Airbnb by the sea/forest/river/desert. Go to yoga or ride a bike or go for a hike. Do the things you could not do during the academic year.
- Catch Up on Personal Items: Make your doctor appointments. Go to the dentist. Organize your bookshelf (seriously, this is a fun thing for some of us). While these items don’t sound like a ton of fun, they’re part of self-care. When we are taking care of our bodies and our physical environment, we are setting up a sanctuary.
- Teach an Online Class: If you have teaching withdrawal, consider opportunities to teach a class online. You haven’t lived until you’ve taught a class in soft pants. And it can offset the lack of summertime paychecks for adjunct instructors.
- Take an Online Class: Conversely, why not be a student? Consider taking an online class in a subject area about which you’re passionate, whether it is creative writing or a new language or bee biology.
- Have an Accountability Partner: Part of the challenge of summertime break is mitigating physical isolation; while teachers have the glorious option of 2-3 months off during summer, not all of our friends are teachers. Most of the world works 9 to 5 during the summertime and it’s hard to figure out how to sync up social schedules. But you can still have an accountability partner. If you’re a writer, this is a friend or partner to whom you send your pages. Even if you want to spend the summer cleaning up your backyard--and your friend wants to organize their pantry; why not send each other updates?
- Consider a Residency: After a year of facilitating and cultivating student learning and student work--it’s time for you to cultivate your own. Consider applying to a writing or artist residency or science residency where you are offered space to do your own research and work. Oftentimes, the room and board are free. Or book yourself time and space to do work at your own leisure.
It’s a testament to how hard educators work that we find transitioning into summer vacation a challenge. But you deserve that time. You deserve that rest. You deserve to rejuvenate. And we hope this list helps you make that transition.