It’s Summer… Time to Shift Gears and Re-energize!
A lighthearted perspective on what summer break can and should be.
by Sue Gruber, M.A.
Barbara Gruber Courses for K-6 Teachers www.bgrubercourses.com
Regular contributor to the Gazette
July 1, 2008
Hooray! You did it! Another school year is in the bag! Take a minute to reflect upon all the great things that happened in your classroom this year. Think about this:
the students you helped
all the problems you solved
the disasters that you just may be able to look back on someday and laugh about
the endless prep work and correcting
the staff meetings
those wonderful moments where you actually saw the light bulbs turn on in your students heads
and all of the time you spent consumed by your job
No wonder you’re tired!
It’s time to make the shift from the overload mode of the hectic last weeks of school to the relaxed and unhurried summer mode. The longer I teach the more convinced I am that the key to staying energized and enthusiastic about teaching is to use the summer break to rejuvenate, relax and re-energize.
I love July. The possibilities of what I can do with my summer seem endless. In the back of my mind I think about how we always kick off our first teacher work day of the new school year by sharing what we did over the summer. It seems that I work with many over-achievers. One of my teacher friends always reports how many items were on her summer to do list. Then, she proceeds to tell us exactly how many of those items she was able to cross off her list. I swear that every year she has at least fifty things to accomplish and she always completes every single one of them.
This summer I’ve decided to shake things up. It will be a different experience for me at our back to school meeting! I won’t do my usual summer recap where I fumble for words and realize that I have no clue where my summer went and no idea of exactly what I did. Instead, I’m making my own list of things to do this summer. Here’s my list:
clean out the closets, cupboards and garage
organize a neighborhood garage sale to get rid of the junk from my closets, cupboards and garage
transform the table on my porch by making a mosaic table top from old broken china dishes that I’ve been collecting forever (the stacks of dishes are part of the clutter “problem” in the garage)
sit at the new mosaic table on my porch, sip an icy margarita and feel totally crafty (I’m not gifted in the craft department…the mosaic table will probably end up looking like a heap of misshapen cement with razor sharp shards of broken plates jutting out of it at dangerous angles)
go to school and organize the cupboards that I never have time to tackle during the school year
exercise regularly (I think the key to this whole exercise thing is the word regularly. I used my 3 pound weights and did arm exercises once. The next day I didn’t notice any difference in my arms so I threw the weights in a closet!)
have fun with my son (ride our bikes to the ice cream store, go to the local swim lagoon, play basketball, read Captain Underpants aloud for the 6th time)
catch up with friends
learn to knit a scarf (with my craft impairment this may result in a rat’s nest of knotted yarn instead of a scarf)
print all the digital pictures trapped in my computer
catch up on photo albums (the last picture I put in an album is from the year 2000)
complete a baby book for my son (my “baby” starts 2nd grade in the fall)
read all the good books stacked up next to my bed
organize the recipes I’ve cut out of Bon Appetit Magazine over the past 10 years
actually make some of the recipes I’ve cut out of Bon Appetit Magazine over the past 10 years
make an earthquake preparedness stash of emergency supplies
move my computer out of the guest room (This August through November we’re hosting a student intern from Portugal who is coming to work at a local winery during the fall crush. I know he won’t want me in his room frantically working on my Gazette articles at midnight!)
It feels do-able. It’s only July—I should have plenty of time to accomplish everything on my list! To help me reach my goal I fantasize about what my life will be like if I complete my to-do list. Here’s the fantasy:
My house is uncluttered thanks to the garage sale. My mosaic table is in the window display at the craft store. My classroom is organized and ready to go. Despite cooking a gourmet meal every evening, I’m incredibly fit and have especially fabulous arms! My son exclaims that this is the best summer of his life as he thumbs through stacks of completed photo albums and his baby book. Oprah calls me for a book recommendation. I meet my friends for coffee each week. Should there be a major earthquake, not only do I have emergency supplies for my family and neighbors, I also have lovely hand-knitted scarves for everyone to wear while we wait for help. The foreign intern is so happy with his accommodations that he presents my husband and me with multiple cases of wine.
This visualizing isn’t working out. I know myself too well! I don’t claim to be psychic, but I know what my to do list will look after it collides with reality. Here’s my reality based prediction:
The garage sale nets $7.50. The day after the garage sale I discover a huge pile of stuff I forgot to put out. Everything gets stuffed back into the garage. I go to school to work on organizing my classroom. On the way to my room I run into that teacher who probably really does live at school. She’s always there and her room is always perfect. Sure enough, she shows me her classroom. It looks like a centerfold spread from Classroom Beautiful magazine. I unlock my classroom door, peek inside and immediately relock the door and go home without ever setting a foot inside. On the drive home, I reason with myself that August is actually a much better time than July to work in my classroom. I use a coupon for the craft store and buy yarn, knitting needles and scrap booking supplies. One week later all of those purchases are stuffed into the back of a closet. Since it’s way too hot to cook inside, we barbecue everything and don’t use a single recipe all summer long. I study the list of earthquake preparedness supplies recommended by the American Red Cross. I realize that I’m already set for a disaster. My entire family can feed off of the crumbs and miscellaneous pieces of food in the back seat and floor of my car for at least a week. The night before the intern arrives, I move the computer.
That doesn’t sound like much fun. I need some balance. The first thing I need to do to salvage this summer is to toss my list of things to do into the recycle can!
So what will I really do with my summer?
I’ll sleep in late every chance I get. I’ll sit on my porch and read the paper every morning while I drink two cups of coffee. I’ll take lots of pictures that won’t end up in photo albums. I’ll spend every minute I can enjoying the antics of a frisky seven year old boy. I’ll go to a movie with my husband. I’ll catch up with my friends. I’ll read a couple of good books and I’ll discover some great new recipes. I will have a lovely mosaic table on my porch. (I promise to include a picture with next month’s article—cross your fingers!) And, when summer comes to an end, I’ll be ready to go back to school, re-energized and 100% convinced that this really was the best summer ever!
So, what’s on your summer to-do list? Whatever you do, make sure you savor the gift of time that summer gives us. If this is the summer that you vowed to take some courses and move up the salary schedule, take a look at our online courses at www.bgrubercourses.com. You still have plenty of time to take a course or two AND relax!
Not only do we teachers have a chance to unwind; we get a fresh start every fall! Relax and play a bit this summer, you’ll head back to school this fall recharged and ready to go!
Treat yourself to a wonderful summer! Enjoy every moment! You deserve it!
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers www.bgrubercourses.com
Copyright 2008: Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers
Sue Gruber taught the upper grades for years. In a moment of wild abandon, she decided to take the plunge and teach the grade she feared most—kindergarten! Sue just wrapped up her eleventh year in kindergarten and loves it. Who knows, the next grade level change might be to sixth grade!
Sue Gruber and Barbara Gruber, a mother-daughter writing team, have created dozens of products for Frank Schaffer Publications, Scholastic, The Education Center and other publishers. Barbara is a former teacher who was employed by Frank Schaffer Publications from l980 to l996. She developed and presented curriculum seminars nationwide for K-6 teachers.
Sue and Barbara launched Barbara Gruber Online Courses for Teachers in 2002. They personally write each course with today’s students and busy teachers in mind. Teachers can do coursework completely on their own, or, if they wish, interact on line with others. They can earn one, two or three semester units from University of the Pacific. Barbara and Sue provide practical strategies and ideas that can be put into action immediately without creating more work for teachers. Barbara and Sue have created exactly what teachers are looking for—teacher-friendly courses at affordable prices. You can find out about their courses at www.bgrubercourses.com
Sue teaches full time, manages Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers and loves writing for the Teachers.Net Gazette. She lives in Sonoma County with her husband and son. Barbara consults for Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers; however, she has “retired” from the business. Retirement for Barbara means she’s busier than ever in Healdsburg, California on a 25-acre working farm called Healdsburg Country Gardens. She and her husband are grape growers for local wineries, have three guest houses for visitors and host wine country weddings.