10 Summer Habits Teachers Should Carry into the New School Year

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Photo Credit: Laura Stockman, 2012

Like many educators, I have the good fortune to know and love quite a few school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. I hang out with them inside of the schools that I get to work in, and I get to spend quite a bit of time with them socially as well. It’s very good for the soul.

Working in this field is as challenging as it is rewarding, so it’s important to surround myself with people who live with intention, who value the pursuit of work-life balance, and who know a thing or two about self-care. These friends have told me time and again that teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the world, and I would never argue. Summer is restorative though, and the habits we establish now are ones we would do well to carry into the new year.

Raise your hand if you’re one of those teachers who rarely reads for pleasure once your paper load picks up in the fall. How many of you abandon your hobbies once school begins? How many of you let go of that leisurely stroll that you take each afternoon with a friend? Your Pinterest boards packed with new recipes to try? Your afternoon nap? Board games with your kids?

Summer invites us to live healthier lives. Don’t squander this opportunity to learn some of the most important lessons life can teach us. They don’t come from books, webinars, Twitter, or conferences. They don’t happen within the four walls of your classroom or at your data team meetings either.

You’re learning some of them right now, as you stretch out in your hammock and stare up at the sky or pull yourself across the surface of your swimming pool. The habits you’re creating now–the ones that allow you to take care of yourself–are worth maintaining through the new school year. They’ll make you a better teacher. They’ll make you a better human being, too.

10 Summer Habits Teachers Should Carry into the New School Year

1. Get adequate rest. Whether this requires you to commit to an earlier bedtime or catch a quick nap after school, adding more shut-eye to your schedule can sharpen your mind and brighten your mood.

2. Make physical activity fun. Rather than squeezing the same workout into your daily schedule between home and school, consider enjoying a bit of recreation. Rollerblade, kayak, golf, or hike. Switch up your times, your location, and your company. Make exercise about more than burning calories. Use it to enrich your life.

3. Read and write for pleasure. The drive into work and your lunch break are perfect times to squeeze in a chapter or two, especially if you are able to listen to books or podcasts while you drive.

4. Make time to visit with friends. Meet for breakfast before school or brunch on the weekend. Grab a cup of coffee after work. Take a picnic up to your local park and watch the sunset. Skype during lunch.

5. Start a new hobby or project. This is particularly rewarding when you’re struggling to meet goals or feel productive at work.

6. Tinker and putter. Futz around with your website, tinker with new recipes, putter around in your yard. Clean up code, pull weeds, change your furniture around in your living room. Experiment. Make a few messes. Clean up a few others.

7. Move slower. Refuse to multitask. Commit to doing one thing at time and really experiencing it.

8. Spend time outside. Garden, cross-country ski, walk every day, or do some yard work. Fresh air, bright sun, and even a good soaking rain are all very good for your soul.

9. Cook from scratch, with fresh ingredients. There are few things that feel as nurturing as this.

10. Tend to your garden. It consumes the mind and the heart and a whole lot of creative energy. Gardeners are richly rewarded for their efforts as well. Plant flowers you can cut, and plan to give some away. Brightening someone’s day is the best way to make your own better. Start an indoor garden, force some bulbs, or consider overwintering your outdoor plants.

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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.

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