It’s been a heck of a year. This summer, more than ever, we need to take the time to rest, relax, and fully disconnect from teaching. Here are some super-practical ways for you to leave the classroom and that teacher brain behind, at least for a little while.
1. Take your work email off your phone.
Go ahead, hit that delete button. No one’s going to have an emergency over the summer that is going to need your immediate attention. That little red number and constant swipe up is just going to cause you stress, so go ahead and disconnect.
2. Set up an away message.
If you feel weird not responding to the emails that do come in, set up an away message. Be sure to say that you are on summer break and are only checking emails periodically throughout the next two months. This way, people know you’re not just ignoring them, but it also takes you off the hook from feeling like you need to respond to every email.
3. Put away your work computer.
Yep, keep that thing closed. Put it away or, better yet, leave it at work. If you really must check in on work goings-on, set aside a specific (short!) time each week when you can catch up on what’s needed so you’re not constantly connected to the grind every day.
4. Read a book for pleasure.
Remember when you used to just read? Not books on pedagogy or the latest article on a new virtual learning platform. Not previewing a YA novel or picture book you plan to read aloud to your class. Just reading for you. Go to the library or local bookstore and get yourself that book to read for pleasure. You’ll need something to occupy that free time you’ve gained from not constantly checking your emails.
5. Don’t talk about work.
It’s so tempting, we know, but try not to talk about work. You’ve likely spent the school year consumed with thinking about students, lesson plans, reports, and families. You’ve talked about it with colleagues, family members, and friends. So, this summer, spend your energy talking about all those other things you put out of your mind for the past 10 months. Feeling tempted by a work convo? Keep this guidance counselor’s trick in mind: Try touching the end of your nose with your index finger the entire time you’re talking. It sounds silly, and that’s the point—it reminds you to move on to other topics.
6. Avoid people you work with.
Unless you’re also legitimately friends outside of work, take a break from seeing your colleagues, whether in person or virtually. You’ll inevitably get sucked into conversations about next year, which will only up your stress levels. And if people wonder why you’re avoiding them, simply quote the iconic Friends line: “We were on a break!”
7. Put down that planner!
Oh, the teacher planner. A beautiful, blank slate for a new school year. It calls to you to start thinking about next year. Stop! Put that planner down. It’ll still be there in a month, and you’ll (hopefully) be more rejuvenated and full of ideas to motivate your kids for that first week back.
8. Pick up a hobby.
Take your mind off work by picking up a hobby that you didn’t have time for during the school year. Always wanted to learn how to knit? Do it! Wanted to start hiking? Go ahead! Have a calming coloring book collecting dust on the bookshelf? Take it down and sharpen those colored pencils. Give yourself time to decompress doing something that brings you joy.
9. Avoid office stores.
Yes, we said it. The sticky notes and fancy pens can wait until August. You know if you end up in an office store, you’re going to start spending that money on “just this one thing” for your classroom. Put it down, walk away, and tell your brain to stop planning that classroom redesign—at least for now.
10. Turn off the alarm.
Unless you have the need to be up at a certain hour each day, go ahead and turn off that alarm, if only for a couple of weeks. Let your body catch up on those much-needed and well-deserved hours of sleep. On a related note, day naps are amazing. Go ahead and try one.
11. Don’t think about work.
We know, we know, easier said than done. But the best way to disconnect is to actually do it. But if you do find those thoughts creeping in, house them in a journal. This way, you’re acknowledging them and putting them somewhere that’s not swirling around your head all day. Jot down those brilliant ideas or worries about the next school year either as they come to you, or make 5 minutes a day (or 30 minutes a week) dedicated time to get those notions out of your mind and onto the page.