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Keys to a relaxing but productive summer break

New York Teacher

Welcome to summer! Here are some suggestions for making the most out of a relaxing and productive break from school.

Recover first — then recharge.

At the end of June, it may be tempting to start thinking about what you could have done differently or to plan ahead for next year. But it’s equally important to give yourself some distance from your classroom.

“When it’s right at the end of the school year, you’re a little burnt out. Wait a few weeks to look back after you’ve had some time to give yourself a break,” advises Dennis Mihalsky, a third-year teacher and the chapter leader at City College Academy of the Arts in Inwood, Manhattan.

Relax — in moderation.

You don’t have lessons to plan or papers to grade. You’ve turned off your alarm and you can sleep until noon!

Well, maybe not noon.

“I always tell my co-workers not to think of summer break as a way to recover lost sleep because that’s not possible,” says Jeremy McNeal, a second-year teacher at Madiba Prep MS in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “Yes, get some additional rest, but try to maintain a schedule close to the one you have during the school year so that it won’t be such a shock to your system when September rolls around.”

That isn’t to say you shouldn’t enjoy sleeping in.

Read — for pleasure and for professional learning.

As educators, we know the most important factor in preventing summer learning loss for students is reading during the summer. The same is true for teachers.

Summer is obviously a great time to read for pleasure. But it can also be a great opportunity to delve into texts that will help you advance your professional learning, whether that means unpacking next year’s curriculum or exploring the writing of professional educators you admire.

Finally, consider doing some reading for your students this summer. If you teach elementary school, this might mean familiarizing yourself with newly released picture books or chapter books for your classroom read aloud or reading assignments. If you teach upper grades, even if you don’t teach English Language Arts, it can be eye-opening and fun to check out books that are popular with your students.

Resolve to form a new habit.

In the hectic days of the school year, it can be challenging to maintain certain habits, whether it’s eating a healthy breakfast or getting to that yoga class once a week.

“Summer is your time to recharge, but also to think about how you can use your time better,” says Mihalsky. “Even if it doesn’t have anything to do with teaching, it’s an opportunity to plan out and try out something new that you’ll continue doing throughout the year.”

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