It’s the May long weekend here – a celebration marking the life of Queen Victoria, and a benchmark that proclaims, especially in the school world, that it is almost summer. We still have over a month left of school, but next week countdowns will be on, plans to wrap up learning projects will be underway, end of year celebrations will be prepared. We are halfway through the crazy month we call AprilMayJune and we are racing downhill to the finish line.
Summer vacation is just around the corner.
In my little piece of the world, summer vacation means a two month break from classes for students and educators. Non-educators often like to offer digs about how they wish they had a job that gave them two beautiful months off in the summer. Educators often endure these remarks silently or with eye rolling assent. We’ve heard it before. There is little point in arguing.
Or is there?
Educators I know spend the summer break doing regular vacation-y things: travelling, spending time with family, home and garden improvements, dunging out the backs of closets (maybe that one is just me?). Of course they do. They work hard and deserve rest and relaxation.
But there are many, many educators that I know that also take classes, courses and workshops to enhance their skills; teach classes, courses and workshops to enhance their colleagues’ skills; do professional reading; plan for next year’s classes; meet/network with colleagues and talk school; stretch their own skills in some way that will make them a better educator for when they return to their students at the end of the break.
I wish more educators would talk about their summer plans that will make them even better educators. It would help with public perception of this difficult and demanding career we’ve signed up for. But wishing doesn’t help much if I don’t participate too.
This summer, I have a stack – a sizeable stack – of professional reading that I want to do. I’ve been in this role for a couple of years now, I think I have the basics down. Now, I get to really focus in on my own weak spots and push my thinking instead of just managing everything. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to learning from some experts: some from those books I’ll read, and probably others on my deck over some summer food and beverages. I’m also trying something I never have before and frankly, it is scaring the bejeebus out of me and making me really excited at the same time.
I love writing. I’ve written for different audiences in different genres for many, many years. I have written a cookbook, songs, curriculum packages, course material, newspaper articles, speeches, brochures, ads, PSAs, a blog, not to mention all of the emails, memos, letters, TPAs, thank you cards, newsletter articles, and reports that come with the job. This summer, I want to stretch my writing muscles. I’m taking on a new genre, hopefully for a new audience, and I haven’t a clue how I’m going to get there or what it will become. For a planner like me (and what educator isn’t a planner?), that is scary.
I’m doing this because I need a little refreshment. I need to try out new skills and give myself a challenge. I also think it will, eventually, help me be better at my job. I completely plan on learning new skills that will transfer over to my writing/planning/educating self that returns in late August.
If you are an educator, I am sure that you will have summer dreams already starting to take hold (you ARE a planner, aren’t you?). I would guess that many of those plans are of the rest/relax/revitalize type, I am also willing to bet you have some of those plans that are going to enhance your skills as an educator too.
Go ahead. Dream about summer. But you may want to reflect on how you could share some of those dreams with the next non-educator who takes you to task for your summer vacation. What could you tell them?