There isn't a teacher that I know that doesn't spend the summer bettering him or herself in some way. One has been working on recertification. Another her master's degree. Another friend is developing a new course he will teach in the fall. The list goes on and on.
And while all of us are working on making ourselves better this fall, one of the things that we are fortunate enough to be able to do during the summer is recharge.
When I first started teaching, a dear friend of mine told me this: "We completely understand. We have other friends who are teachers, and we normally see them during the summer instead of the school year."
For many of us, our personal lives are set on the back burner during the school year. Our students' lives become like our own children's lives. We attend basketball games for our family and our students. We go to choir concerts, band concerts, and we find extra ways to show our "kids" that we care. And sometimes that means we just have to miss out on things in our own lives.
(This is by no means a complaint! I love my job, and I love feeling as if I am a part of my students' families too!)
So this summer, I've been intentional about recharging by seeing people I haven't seen in a long time. Rekindling friendships and making time for others feeds my soul. It's also an opportunity for me to share my teaching story. I think after attending Cathy Fleischer's teacher advocacy workshop, I am now always thinking about building allies and sharing my story to challenge the dominant narrative about teachers. (Just last week, I was able to challenge Trump, Jr.'s speech to nearly everyone that brought up the convention.)
I've also been able to recharge by attending the Eastern Michigan Writing Project for my third summer. I can't seem to get enough of this self-driven and teacher-led professional development. Teachers should teach teachers more often. We have a real understanding of impact on immediate practice, and we become a network to rely on during the school year. This is why I keep coming back. Although this year's institute was even shorter than those in the past, I'm leaving feeling professionally rejuvenated. I'm ready to head into my research project for the fall and to provide updates to my colleagues during our continuity meetings.
My wife and I are also getting to spend more time with each other than ever before. We've started a read-aloud, have painted multiple rooms together, and are able to sit down and eat dinner with each other, which is something that is so difficult to do with our alternating elementary and high school schedules. I'm often up early and she's up late during the school year. At the same time, the demands of the job are what makes it easy for us to understand each other's schedules.
Most importantly, I'm making time to read. So far this summer I've read The Great American Whatever; Pose, Wobble, Flow; Violent Ends; Catch; Shadow and Bone; and The 5th Wave. While it is a small list compared to my book-a-day attempt previous summers, it's more than I was able to read during the last few hectic months of school. And with each of these books, I know a student whose hands I am going to place them in in the fall. S, you're getting Violent Ends. J, you're getting The Great American Whatever, and I, you're getting Catch. See, this is my real work. I get to pair kids with books that will recharge and shape them. And that alone is rejuvenating.