May 22, 2015 was the day the Class of 2015 graduated where I teach; consequently, I spent most of May 23rd and May 24th either sleeping or in a semi-comatose state because I was tired. Let’s be honest: teaching is exhausting. But no sooner than the end-of-the-year bell rings, many teachers are figuring out how to get the most out of their summer and also debrief and prepare for the next school year. I’m sure many of you are type A personalities like myself, so sitting and resting do not come easily but are so necessary for healthy teachers. This summer be sure to carve out time for rest in the following areas:
Physical Rest. The daily grind of the school year is physically exhausting. Take time to sleep in or at least leave mornings unscheduled and relaxed. Quality physical rest stems from overall physical health, and summer is a perfect time to focus on areas in our personal health that may have gotten out of balance during the school year. Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables, extra energy to prepare healthy meals, and time for leisurely walks all of which makes for a healthy and rested body. And by all means if your body is saying it needs a power nap in the afternoon, take it because you certainly won’t be able to do that once school starts.
Emotional Rest. One of the most exhausting parts of the day in and day out of a school year is the emotional drain from students, parents, and even colleagues. Being emotionally drained is not necessarily a bad thing because it means we have celebrated with our students, cried for our students, struggled with families, and lamented with coworkers over what’s best for our students. This is good because we have been fully present, but we do need to step back and allow ourselves time to emotionally rest. Spend time around people who are easy to be with and give you energy this summer and don’t feel guilty about it.
Mental Rest. Planning, grading, conferencing, and reading for ten months can lead to mental exhaustion, but if you’re like me, summer is a time to read professional books that you can’t squeeze into the school year. Evaluating the previous year, planning for the new year, and reading for professional development are great things to do over the summer but balance them with pleasure reading or catching up on a television series.
As we all know, summer comes and goes quickly, and rest will most likely not happen without intentional planning. Plan well, rest up, and be fully refreshed for another school year.