Teachers are now on their well-deserved summer break. The last line of the old kids’ song that begins… “No more pencils, no more books” can easily be altered to include “no more student’s dirty looks.” Have you seen the scowl when you tell a child that you don’t believe the dog ate his homework? Teachers need down time just as much as kids do, and while it might be impossible to get entirely out of teacher-mode for the summer, it’s good to switch off, relax, and rejuvenate.
Of course, a good science teacher knows there’s a neuroscience behind hitting the off button. The brain’s behavior control networks strengthen with practice, which means that teachers get used to certain patterns of behavior. In other words, you might be dipping your feet in the pool or barbecuing hamburgers and hot dogs, and at the same time planning next fall’s lesson plans. Leaving the work in the classroom is a difficult task. Still, there are plenty of ways to relax and rejuvenate over the summer break and still keep the mind active.
Nurturing your identity outside of teaching will, in turn, make you a better and more effective teacher. And summer vacation provides the perfect platform for nurturing identity. Summer is a time for reflection and inspiration, and it doesn’t matter if that reflection occurs on a beach on vacation or while walking to the local pool or tennis court. Summer is a time to take up a new hobby or rediscover an old one, explore creative passions, or simply rock in a backyard hammock lazily reading a book. The informal structure of leisure time has its own scholarly benefits. The Greeks and Romans knew this, and look what they created -some of the best poems, art, and philosophical works of the Western world. Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Summer gives teachers the time for quiet introspection; it allows them the freedom to examine their lives.
Book Clubs and Hobbies
Summer is the time to indulge in guilty pleasures. What teacher doesn’t like blockbuster movies, salt-water taffy, or roller-coasters? Still, even when teachers relax, they have a tendency to stay mentally active. From joining book clubs to playing bridge on a back porch lit with Tiki torches and citronella candles, the life of the mind has a way of creeping into summer activities. Crossword puzzles, painting, birding, gardening, nature walks -many hobbies and pastimes are not only relaxing and rejuvenating, but have a mindfulness to them that leads to unplanned for discoveries. And aren’t unplanned for discoveries the heart and soul of education?