As teachers, we spend the last few weeks of the school year harping on the importance of our students using their brains over summer break and offer ways to do so. But how can we keep our brains sharp during the summer lull before the fall semester begins? Here are ways to keep your mind engaged during summer break.

Jun 08, 2022

It’s official — summer is here! The time when educators can finally kick their feet up and do absolutely nothing. But for some of us, after about a day of nothing, we’re ready to get the metaphorical cognitive wheels turning again. If you’re looking for ways to enjoy your summer break while still keeping your mind engaged, we have six ideas for you.

1. Rest and Enjoy Summer

The best way to ensure your brain will be sharp for fall semester is to give it much-needed rest time. In fact, cognitive rest has been shown to improve productivity, concentration, and motivation, among other factors, according to Cleveland Clinic.

2. Make Time for Your Hobbies

Go for walks, travel, keep a journal, garden, or lean into your social life, for example. Do all the things you wish you had time for during the school year.

3. Pursue Professional Growth

Summer is a great time to kick off one of the many professional growth trajectories available to teachers. Here is a short list of reputable and meaningful learning opportunities to get you thinking:

  • Begin the path to a master’s degree. This will not only advance your knowledge but will also result in a pay raise in most districts.

  • Take graduate-level courses. Depending on your district’s pay structure, simply achieving some graduate credits (even without the diploma) will move your pay lanes. 

  • Pursue your National Board Certification. Many National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) have cited this as the most meaningful professional development they have ever engaged in. It can also be more wallet-friendly than a master’s program.

  • Embark on the Professional Learning Plan through the Arizona K12 Center. This inquiry process for learning communities is effective, as evidenced by improved student learning and growth.

You can even begin the planning process during summer if you’re motivated. It will be much easier to plan while on a “brain break” than to try to do so once the new school year is underway.

4. Reflect on Areas of Growth

Consider areas where you felt weak in the classroom, your students didn’t meet certain social/academic benchmarks, or where evaluations and feedback indicated areas of growth. Once you’ve identified one or two focal areas for yourself, consider reading to fill knowledge gaps and absorb practical tips for next year. 

5. Review and Revise Your Curriculum Map

That idea you’ve been pondering but kept forgetting about, or didn’t have time to implement last year? Kept a list of things you’d like to change for next year? Write them into your curriculum map! This should feel invigorating and exciting as you improve the quality of your curriculum and flex your creative muscles.

6. Apply for Seasonal Work

Most districts leverage their own teachers for summer school or tutoring positions if you want to remain in education. Alternatively, if you can’t fathom the idea of working with students during your vacation, but want the extra paycheck, consider another industry. Catering companies, restaurants, and the local park service are great places to start.

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