You’ve disassembled your bulletin boards, packed away your school supplies and handed out report cards. Congratulations — summer is here! Here are some tips from experienced teachers on how to have a productive summer vacation.
Look back. As you cleaned out your classroom in June, you may have been surprised by how many charts, worksheets and supplies you managed to collect throughout the year. “Invest in a good filing cabinet and figure out a system for filing and storing things,” advises Mary Ahern, who teaches at PS 182 in Queens.
The first few weeks of your summer can also be a good time to review what you taught while it’s still fresh in your mind. “Look back and see clearly which lessons worked, which need to be amended and which need to be trashed,” says Abbe Spiegel, a teacher at PS 99 in Brooklyn.
Then look ahead. Using some of your summer time to plan ahead can help you get a jump start on the next school year. “Unit plan at least September and October and date your worksheets accordingly — that will at least let you breathe while you get reacclimated to another school year,” suggests Jennifer Dewing, a teacher at Riverdale Avenue Community School in Brooklyn.
Some teachers set aside a few hours each week during the summer for planning; others recommend using the month of July to relax and return to planning in August with a fresh perspective.
Read. “You never know where you’ll find material, so read everything you can in the summer,” says John L. Jones, a literature teacher at Edward R. Murrow HS in Brooklyn.
Arlene Perez, a special education teacher at Isaac Newton MS in Manhattan, has an innovative suggestion for pleasure reading: “Read what the kids would read,” she advises.
Consider professional development. Taking summer courses can help you earn credits toward an additional teaching certificate or a salary differential. You may even be able to find a unique summer learning experience.
“Find opportunities that combine travel, learning and a stipend,” recommends George Anthony, a social studies teacher at Susan E. Wagner HS on Staten Island. “There’s nothing better than opening your mind to innovative ideas in another location and getting a check to cover you for your time!”
Try something new. “Learning a new skill will remind you what it’s like to be a student,” says Jessica Leung Rivera, an ESL teacher at PS 101 in Brooklyn. “This will keep you fresh and excited, and it’ll also give you something to tell your students as you model lifelong learning.”
But don’t forget to relax! “Remember that the summer is time for you to unwind,” says Lee DiGeorge, a teacher at PS 87 in Queens. “A burned-out teacher isn’t good for students.”