Teacher Burnout

Summer Break: #TERSchoolFreeSummer Challenge

As we enter into a well-deserved summer, I applaud you. Thank you for a great school year of educating and caring for children that belong to someone else. We appreciate your sleepless nights and early mornings, your 30 min -1 hr commute every morning. Thank you for not calling in sick when you rightfully could have because you knew your students had to learn that new concept for the district-made exam that was coming.
Your work is not in vain. It did make a difference. You did not waste your time.
But…it’s summer break.
The first few days will be full of all the sleep you missed during the school year. If you have kids, it will be full of sporadic, short naps throughout the day while your kids play video games or eat all of the food in the fridge.
After regaining your strength, you will try and find something to do. Relaxing will be difficult because you will be so used to doing something every second of the day. While searching for something to do, you’ll fall into the teacher summer cycle.
Teacher Summer Cycle
Phase 1: Reflection
In the first phase, you’ll start reflecting on the nonsense you had to endure with kids and administration throughout the year. You’ll want to talk about it, so you’ll call up one of your co-workers or post about it on Facebook and Twitter. As you engage in conversation, you’ll enter into the second phase of the cycle, researching for the next school year.
Phase 2: Early Preparation
You’ll go on Pinterest, Instagram, and Teachers Pay Teachers, to look for classroom and concept ideas. You’ll buy and print materials and start getting deep into planning for next year. Your friends and spouse will say, “You don’t want to take some time and rest? You’ve got all summer to do this!” But you’ll make up excuses and respond, “I’m only going to work on this and then I’ll be done.”
But once you get started, you can’t stop.
You’ll start taking trips to the teacher’s store, stocking up on supplies, and eventually, you end up in your classroom when you should be at home resting. After a few weeks of planning, you’ll look at the calendar and wonder where your summer went.
Enter phase three: Regret.
Phase 3: Regret
You’ll be mad at yourself for spending the bulk of your summer talking about school, planning for school, and being at school. You’ll fall into sadness and depression about the summer you didn’t have. Instead of treasuring each day, you feel sick inside because you only have a few days left.
When you get back to school for Professional Development, the first icebreaker question will be “What did you do this summer?” and your answer will be “Planned for the year.” But if you’re still upset about your decision to work on school stuff during the break, your response will be “Nothing.”
So, I’m challenging you.
The Educator’s Room is big on Teacher Self-Care. (Are you signed up for the conference this summer? Do that now!) So I’m creating the #TERSchoolFreeSummer challenge.
Rules for #TERSchoolFreeSummer Challenge
You cannot talk about school.
Do not work on stuff for the next school year.
No, you cannot go to the teacher’s store.
You will not step foot inside your school.
Do not look on Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, or Instagram for classroom ideas. (Instagram has a ‘Mute’ feature, so you can ‘Mute’ those teacher accounts until the challenge is over. Excuse Handled.)
You can have the last week and a half to prepare for the next school year.
You’ve taught this subject before and you know the curriculum. Your classroom will still be beautiful. Your kids will learn and excel no matter what.
But you…it’s time to take some time off for YOU.
Why you need to participate in the #TERSchoolFreeSummer Challenge
We are not in school for 12 months. We have a summer break for a reason. Give yourself time to mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically recover from the school year in preparation for the new one. Don’t carry over the same baggage and worries into the new year. You cannot give your new students your best if you haven’t had time to reset.
It’s like a new relationship. You have to recover from the previous one in order to embrace the new one, free from old expectations and assumptions. If you don’t, you cause the next person to pay for what the previous ones have done to you.
Take the time you’ve been given and rest. If you’re bored, that’s okay. Be bored. Stare at the wall. Binge watch Netflix. Read a book. Visit that cafe or restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Go to the park. Take a road trip. Go visit your family. Take a cooking class. Go to the movies.
The list goes on.
But whatever you do, know that you’ve earned the right to do it during your summer vacation.
Rest. Revive. Reset.
Are you up for the #TERSchoolFreeSummer challenge?

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