How to Refuel the Teacher Soul
We laugh when we see memes that compare teachers in August to teachers in May. But there's so much truth behind those disheveled survival mode end-of-year pictures. As teachers, we pour our heart and soul into teaching. So, yes, after 180-ish days we have less of ourselves to give. Summer is the perfect time to refuel the teacher soul. You deserve rest, rejuvenation and preparation. Read on for 10 suggestions to just that.
Step away for as long as you need.
Take this as permission to leave your teacher identity behind for a bit this summer. No guilt. Zip, zilch, none. Sure there will be teachers in Facebook groups and Instagram reels who are already planning and decorating their classrooms. That doesn't have to be you. Take the time you need to step away. You have worked hard, and you have earned rest. It may be cliche, but "distance makes the heart grow fonder" works for school time, too. So power down that computer and focus on your personal life and your own unique needs.
Read a page-turning novel.
You've spent plenty of time reading teaching books, student work and educational articles. Now it's time to read for enjoyment! Here are some of my favorites (affiliate links):
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith I'm absolutely addicted to this series! These books are extremely well-written with twists, turns and connections. Centered around a small detective agency, these books are worth the time needed to make your way through them.
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain I love anything by Diane Chamberlain! This is an easy by-the-pool type of read with a suspenseful mystery that will keep you guessing to the end.
Women's Murder Club Series by James Patterson I've read all 23 of the books in this series and counting! You will feel like the characters are you friends once you've gone all-in on this series. Beware that the murders are gruesome but it's a page-turner.
Abbot Pond by Steve Hobbs This is for sure my favorite book that I've recently read. You'll be left asking yourself, "Who was Danny??" 10 out of 10.
Engage in your favorite form of exercise.
Exercise is great for your physical and mental health. Have you prioritized this lately? Go for a walk, attend a yoga class, join a fitness club, hike on a trail, ride a bike, sign up for a 5K, participate in a challenge, take a dance class, etc. Go on. You'll feel better afterwards!
Visit with loved ones and friends.
Unfortunately, friendships can be put on the back burner during the school year. Friday night means early bedtime; Saturdays are for errands, chores, family commitments and other responsibilities; and Sunday is for rest, prayer and, of course, worrying about the fact that the weekend is almost over and Monday is right around the corner. It's no wonder teachers don't always have the social life they desire. Use this time to tend to your relationships. Visit a parent or grandparent at their home. Meet up with a girlfriend for coffee. Invite your besties over for pizza and games. Do whatever fills your bucket.
Accomplish a personal goal.
Feeling burnt out? Exhausted? Frustrated? Broke? Unhealthy? Disorganized? Choose a personal goal that you believe would make you feel better about yourself and your circumstance and go after it. Make a realistic plan and aim for a little bit of progress every day. In James Clear's Atomic Habits, he shares that becoming 1% better at something each day can make an enormous impact on the overall goal. Start making small changes towards one goal. Set a savings goal, start journaling daily or organize your closets. The best part is that you get to choose (no district mandates here)!
Read thoughtful notes you've received.
Treasure the emails, post-it notes and cards that fill up your bucket. Email from a grateful parent? Save it to a folder on your desktop to open when you're feeling down. Post-it note from your teacher bestie letting you know that you are loved and appreciated? Keep it in your desk drawer to look at when you need that reminder. Thank you card from a student letting you know what a difference you have made in his or her life? Refer back to this when you need a reminder about your why.
Learn something new.
When you've been teaching for a long time, it can be easy to forget the magic of learning something new. Your students are seeing the content you teach for the very first time. When was the last time you learned something academic for the first time? Take an online course to experience the process of learning a new skill firsthand. You'll feel reenergized with the new knowledge, and this process will grant you empathy and understand for your students' learning process.
Purchase the perfect planner.
If you're looking for the perfect planner to add joy to your prep, check out The Happy Planner! The Happy Planner is an amazing tool to get organized, stay motivated and prepare for the upcoming school year. I have used The Happy Planner both personally and professionally for years, and I highly recommend it! There are 8 different designs to check out here (affiliate link).
Establish classroom systems.
Okay, so you're starting to maybe think about the fact that you start school soon. Is there anything from last year that you don't feel great about? Is there something that you want to improve? This is a great time to establish new classroom systems so that you can enter the new school year feeling confident and prepared. This could involve simply sitting on the front porch with your favorite hot beverage and a notebook as you dream about what you would like to do differently next year. Dig deep for those ideas that electrify you.
Buy some fresh supplies.
Even if your school generously provides supplies, it feels amazing to start with some fresh essentials at the beginning of the year. Look for some back to school deals and stock up on supplies that make you feel good. I mean, maybe this is just me, but I totally get chills when I walk into Staples in August. So many cute and useful supplies! Consider some of these popular tools (affiliate links):
What would you add to this list? How do you refresh your soul at the end of a long school year?
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