We’ve done it. It’s been a long, challenging year for teachers (that’s an understatement!), but we have finally reached the finish line. Amidst a pandemic we found new ways to inspire inquiry in our students. We juggled so many things that came our way and we are just tired. We need a break.
But, if you’re like me, you probably jump from one major project straight into another. After all, even during the summer teachers seek out professional development, review curriculum maps, and brainstorm plans for the fall, not to mention all those other projects you put off during the school year. Before you dive into your next project though, there is one thing I’d like to encourage you to do: rest
Rest, Relax, Restore…
It’s tempting to ignore the call for rest. There’s so much to do and we live in a culture which exalts working long nights to get results. But rest is an important part of our work as educators and neglecting it doesn’t help us succeed. Studies have shown that a lack of rest not only dulls and mutes some of our best qualities, but it can also handicap them entirely.
So before you go burning the midnight oil for the third night in a row, consider trying some of the following:
- Get Outdoors: The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on everyone. One way we can shake off some of the stress we’ve accumulated is by getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. This isn’t just an empty suggestion either. Evidence suggests that nature can help restore your attention, creativity, and your desire to do more.
- Give a Little Grace: Give yourself permission to sleep in a little and take your time getting prepared in the morning. Enjoy a cup of coffee in bed while reading the day’s newspaper. Lying in bed and pondering how you want your day to go can be very therapeutic, and it allows you to approach each morning calmly rather than in a mad dash.
- Record Your Success: VAI’s Ben Talsma suggests that teachers make a list of their achievements this summer. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the classroom. The list you create will serve as a source of inspiration and remind you of how important your work is. Best of all, once the pandemic is fully over, you’ll be able to look back a remember how awesome you were!
- Unplug for a Day: There’s a reason why “doomscrolling” has become common vernacular. The internet and social media can be useful, but too much time on a screen will only build more stress. Close your laptop, turn off your notifications, and spend a day pursuing your interests offline. Cook a new recipe, try your hand at painting, or simply let yourself be present in the moment. Trust me, your brain will thank you.
- Read: There’s nothing like a good book to set the mind at ease. Was there any book which inspired you to get into teaching? Take it off your bookshelf and give it a re-read. Find those books which gave you the confidence to try a new lesson or explore a new strategy in the classroom. Sometimes all we need is a little pep talk to remember why love teaching!
…and Have Fun!
I hope these strategies help you find moments of rest this summer. Remember, fixating on the fall and living in a constant of work won’t lead to success. Instead, take a moment to appreciate everything you’ve accomplished this year. You really showed up like a champion and now it’s time to rest. Get outside and enjoy your summer!