Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers...
by Barbara Gruber, M.A. & Sue Gruber, M.A.
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers www.bgrubercourses.com
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Rest your body, restore your soul & have some fun!
Use your summer break to relax and recharge---you will return to school brimming with enthusiasm and energy. It's so easy for the summer to whiz by---in the blink of an eye it is time for school to start again! Don't let this summer fly by---schedule some good times for yourself on your calendar! Treat yourself to a leisurely walk, browse through your favorite antique store, window shop on ebay, rent a funny video and pamper yourself with bubble baths on a regular basis.
Make sure those fun times actually happen---write them on your calendar in ink! Treat yourself to a real break from being a teacher!
You need a "What's Happening?" Box
Here's a tip that will help you be organized and fit more fun into your life. It's a "What's Happening?" box---if you don't have one already, you can make one in five minutes. All you need is fifteen file folders and a box large enough to hold the folders upright. Many shoeboxes are just the right size to hold file folders! Label twelve of the file folders with the months of the year and label the others:
Books to Read,
Videos/Movies to See,
Fun Things to Do.
Take a moment to jot a list of birthdays and important dates on the fronts of the monthly folders. Now, place the folders in the box in chronological order and pop the other three folders in the front of the box. Voila---you now have a "What's Happening?" box! When you read a don't-miss-this review of a book, film or restaurant, clip it and pop it in the appropriate folder. When you see a magazine article about lavender sachets you would love to make---clip it and pop it in the Things to Do folder. When you are catching up on reading magazines over the summer, often you are reading the February issues in the month of July. Don't let those good ideas get away---just clip and file ideas that pertain to holidays or certain months in the appropriate monthly folders. Now that you have a "What's Happening?" box up and running, let's think about school for a moment.
No matter how hard you try, it's almost impossible not to think about school during the summer break! Try this---during the first week of your summer break, take some time to reflect on the past school year. Think about the high points and the low spots---every teacher has some of each! What do you plan to do differently next school year? What do you want to be sure to do again? Jot a quick list of things you want to remember to implement during the next school year. File the paper in your "What's Happening?" box in the folder for the month when school starts. Now that you've jotted the ideas down, you don't have to think about them any more until the start of school. Get those school ideas out of your head so you can maximize your enjoyment of your summer break.
Schedule these four important days on your calendar now!
- Classroom Day---within a few days of the last day of school, go back to your classroom on one day for four or five hours. Do the three back-to-school jobs that dread the most. Get these tasks done, lock the classroom and get out of there for the rest of the summer.
- Reunion Day---plan lunch or a coffee talk session with friends you haven't had a chance to see during the busy school year.
- All About Me Days---schedule a special day for yourself in July and in August. On these days, the entire day is dedicated to nothing and no-one except you! Don't cook, clean, do laundry or any kind of work---do fun stuff for the entire day! This is your day to be a prince or a princess!
- Outing Day---plan a visit to a nearby place you've always wanted to visit and just haven't taken the time to do it. We plan to take a tour of the Jelly Belly Jellybean factory and then go to the outlet mall in that area. This is going to be a fun day---what could be better than eating jelly beans and shopping for bargains?
Bring more laughter into your life!
Laughter is good medicine---it actually reduces stress and improves our immune systems. How can you get more laughter into your life?
- Hang out with people who are simply fun to be with
- Rent funny videos
- Read funny books
- Watch children play
- Buy a dozen or so funny birthday cards to keep on hand
- Take life less seriously---try to be light-hearted and find amusement in simple things in life such as watching birds fluttering in birdbaths, watching children play, people watching and enjoying time with a pet.
- Take yourself less seriously---learn to laugh at yourself!
Things to Do!
- Grow something---plant some easy-to-grow flowers or buy a new houseplant!
- Make something---(True stories from Barbara): a friend of mine makes beautiful beaded bracelets and necklaces. When I went to the bead store, I had no idea what to buy! If I bought beads, how many would I need and how would the necklace look when it was done? I was overwhelmed! So, I left the store without buying anything. Well, I found some inexpensive kits on the internet for making necklaces that contained all the materials and, most importantly, the directions. So, making a beaded necklace is going to be my "learn something new" activity. If it turns out that I don't like the necklace, I have a hunch my three-year-old grand-daughter will love it!
The last "make something" activity I tried didn't work at all. I saw some cute crocheted purses in a magazine---according to the directions they were easy to make. (Not!) I liked the one that was decorated with antique buttons. Well, I bought the yarn, found my long lost crochet hook and made the weirdest looking purse I'd ever seen. Actually, it didn't even look like a purse. When my husband said, "What is that thing?" I told him it was a hat or a purse...depending on how it turned out! Well it didn't turn out to be a hat or a purse, it looked more like a dishcloth. So, I unraveled "it" and discovered that crochet yarn is great for tying up plants in the garden. Every time I use the yarn in my garden, I think about how weird that project turned out and laugh about it. By the way, I decorated a cute purse I already owned with antique buttons and it looks great! Why didn't I think of that in the first place?
- Eat something---try some new recipes or try an ethnic restaurant that offers a cuisine you have not tried before. You just might discover a new favorite kind of food!
- Fix something---do you have a bracelet with a broken clasp or a camera case with a broken zipper. Summer is a perfect time to take care of pesky little jobs and get things fixed or replaced.
- Take a class---that has nothing to do with school. Learn to take better photographs, knit or make scrapbooks! We hear knitting is back in vogue and lots of people are taking classes! Get a catalog of classes from the recreation department and the community college in your area.
- Climb the salary ladder---take a class to move up to the next notch on the salary ladder. Teaching is hard work---why not make the most dollars you can be staying on the top level of the salary ladder? We offer quick courses that are packed with practical ideas. Teachers can earn up to 3 optional semester units from a fully-accredited University. We promise not to give teachers more work to do---our ideas are about working smarter, not harder. Take a look at the affordable online courses at http://www.bgrubercourses.com Teachers who take our courses tell us they can tell we are teachers---they also say we've helped them put the fun back into teaching. What wonderful compliments---they are music to our ears!
When you flip your calendar to August...more and more thoughts about school creep into teachers' minds. Every teacher experiences the onslaught of school thoughts and school dreams. Remember, no matter how early you go back before you have to be there...you will never get everything done! Once you go back, your vacation is over and the job of getting ready for school start consumes the rest of your summer vacation. Donate a limited number of days of your vacation time for working in your classroom before school starts---it is a donation unless you are paid to be there!
(A true story from Sue): I have a list of things I need to do at back-to-school time. I use the same list every year---it saves me time and helps me get organized quickly. If you don't have a Back-to-School Things to do" list---start one this year. Just make the list as you get your room ready for back to school. Every time you do another task, add it to the list. Save the list and use it as a reference from year to year. I keep my list in a Back-to-School folder in my file cabinet. Thanks to the list, I don't have to reinvent the wheel and try to remember everything I need to do! Just looking at the list makes me feel organized instead of overwhelmed. Here is my system for maximizing my summer break---at the end of the year, I do my plans and preparation for the first two weeks of school. It is such a good feeling knowing I'm all set for the first two weeks! During the last week of school, I do some of the bulletin boards. Then, I don't go back until the first day we are paid to be there. I have my handy list of things to do and it's amazing how quickly I can whip down the list and get things done!
Have a wonderful summer break from school. Be sure to find time to smell the roses and spend time with friends and family.
Best wishes ~
Barbara and Sue Gruber
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers
Copyright 2003: Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers
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