Please don’t do this.
Whatever you do, don’t go there.
Trust me, it will not end well.
I am referring to looking in your rear-view mirror and going through your coulda, woulda and shoulda’s. You have been through an incredibly difficult two years. Allow yourself to feel good about where you are.
Leadership expert Dan Sullivan would recommend that you focus on the gain, not the gap. In other words, reflect on the progress made, not the distance between where you ended up and where you wanted to be. This does not mean that you shouldn’t continue to strive to get better. It’s in your DNA. I know you are always looking for ways to improve. And just in case you were looking for more, I wanted to provide you three great ways to become a better educator this summer.
Listen to Podcasts
Am I biased because I host two podcasts? Probably. But is listening to podcasts a great to improve your practice in just ten minutes? Absolutely.
The beauty of podcasts is that you can listen to them on the go. You don’t need to be sitting, highlighting or even have your eyes open to learn from a podcast. I know folks that listen to podcasts while they are driving, exercising, or cutting their lawn.
Again, I am biased, but I would recommend one of the many podcasts on the BAM Radio Network. No matter what your position in education, there is a podcast for you. And best of all, podcast episodes usually only run between 4 and 15 minutes. Try just one. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Prepare Yourself Physically
I will never forget my dad’s advice the summer before my first-year teaching. He said, “Jon, you are going to want to be in the best shape of your life before you step foot in that classroom.” At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. I mean it’s not like I was going to be playing in the NFL.
Now I understand what my dad meant. Teaching is exhausting. I played competitive sports growing up, so I had some idea of what it was like to be worn out. But there was nothing I played that prepared me for how tired I was after a long day of teaching. It is a tired like I had never experienced.
Here’s the thing. You don’t have to spend hours and hours exercising and working out like you may have done when you were younger. Not that you still aren’t. Just don’t talk yourself out of exercising because of where you may be now. Go for walks. Do a few push ups each day. Play with your kids or your pets. You can get a good workout in as little as five minutes a day. Your body will thank you when you head back to school in August.
Rest Your Mind
What is the one thing that never seems to turn off during the school year? Your mind. Heck, even when we are sleeping, we are dreaming about the next day or being chased by a giant unsharpened pencil. Maybe that’s just me.
Start by making a list of everything that comes to mind when you think about next school year. Take as much time as you need to get everything down on paper. When you are done writing, put the piece of paper away and don’t look at it again until the week before school.
Finally, allow yourself to get more sleep than you did during the school year. You’re probably thinking, “Jon, that won’t be a problem.” Remember, when you sleep you allow your brain to rest and to flush out all of the toxins that built up during the day. Your brain will thank you and you will be more mentally prepared in August.
Remember you have earned this summer. Enjoying your time away from school doesn’t mean you are unprofessional or that you don’t like kids or enjoy your job. Don’t let social media or non-educators try to convince you otherwise. Oh, and one more thing.
I’ll see you in August!
Jon Harper is a former elementary school teacher and current assistant principal in Dorchester County Public Schools.