I love being out of school! A more flexible schedule ranks high on my list of joys. What delight to encounter the many things that could and and should and would (want) to be done with the freedom to choose which to prioritize! For a brief two to three months, those school bells cannot mandate my life. And yet, my mind never completely stops thinking about school.
How can I be intentional about these summer months rather than merely letting them pass? It is not possible to do everything that could, should, and would be done, so how can I come to the end of the summer and know that I left undone the least important things? It seems to me that the only way is to regularly ask the Father and then listen. The instructions will be different for each person, and yet, I offer several guidelines to consider.
- Travel a bit – but not too much. Filling up the summer with lots of travel potentially ends up leaving one feeling more frazzled and disjointed than rested or refreshed. While that comment does reflect my age, I believe it is true of everyone. It’s the “too much” that will vary from person to person with the age factor helping to set those parameters. 🙂
- Summers are wonderful times for new ideas to whirl around with the hope of a few taking root and growing! Without my nose to the school grindstone, it is easier to think outside the box. Those tyrannical time constraints have a way of limiting my ability to dream big. And when a span of weeks or months lies between me and the idea taking on flesh, fresh thoughts flow more easily. I keep jotting down those (mostly half-baked) ideas as they come during the summer because recording the thoughts grants me permission to then forget them.
- Pursue a new hobby. This summer I am paying more attention to wild flowers blooming in the ditches, learning their names, and transplanting a few into my flower bed. Last summer I begin taking photos of flowers and using them to make cards. Another summer I learned about raising baby chicks. New hobbies often invite refreshing connections with another set of people.
- Pray for your students. For years, I jotted down a prayer schedule to help me pray weekly for each of my incoming students. Although I follow that plan less regularly somewhere in the middle or toward the end of the summer, I find that investing in prayer does help prepare my heart to love them.
- Plan to visit or interact with at least a few of your incoming students. During my first year of teaching, I discovered that interacting with students in their home setting does something to my heart – it opens a door for me to see them more clearly as whole people versus primarily as children that need to learn their ABC’s. While I could invite them over to my house, what I really want is to relate with them on their turf.
- Read a variety of genres. I read Peter’s post on the importance of continuing to learn by reading good books in the summer months and eagerly anticipate the promised list coming soon. 🙂 [Editor’s note: it’s here!]
I wonder what guidelines other teachers would offer?
CONTRIBUTOR: Betty Yoder