Teachers, Don’t Forget to Relax

Admittedly, self-care is not my forte, but, like Alice (from Alice in Wonderland) I need to learn to take my own good advice.

I think that most people imagine that teachers spend the whole summer sleeping until noon, hanging out by the pool, and relaxing. For me, this is laughable.

Instead, summer vacation ends for me in 2 1/2 weeks. So far, I have:

  • attended 12 days of training offered by my district (many of which included tasks that I needed to complete outside of class time, even if it was just working through the lunch break that day instead of going out somewhere).
  • implemented 30 days of “Family Art Time” with my kids, where we watched a YouTube video of how to draw a specific picture step-by-step. It’s a combination of fine motor skills practice, time hanging out together, and learning a new skill as a family. My progress has been logged via Instagram.
  • subjected my older two sons to “roll, write, solve” addition practice with dice. They get to “level up” to a die with more sides and numbers when they correctly solve 10 questions in 3 minutes.
  • read most of Explore Like a Pirate in the hopes of diving into gamifying my classroom this year, and come up with the beginnings of a plan for my game.
  • Participated in some Twitter chats, mostly #3rdchat, as a way to connect to other teachers for ideas and feedback.
  • finished knitting the shawl I’ve been working on as a surprise for my grandmother before the cold weather sets back in. (Confession: I meant to finish it in time to give it to her last Christmas, but was only about halfway finished.) I’ve also made some progress on a couple of other unfinished projects that started to collect dust during the school year.
  • read for pleasure. The Paper Magician series by Charlie N. Holmberg is a really fun read. It’s enchanting and full of action…and really makes me want to do some origami.

I imagine that I am NOT the only teacher who has been busy this summer, and many have accomplished far more than I have.

During the school year, I am sometimes guilty of not getting enough sleep, spending too much of my time at home on things for school, never exercising (other than the 7500 or so steps I tend to walk around my classroom and school each day), and not doing things outside of school that I enjoy.

Summer is when there is time available to be a little selfish and do the things I don’t always have time to do during the school year, and while for me that doesn’t mean sleeping until lunchtime and hanging out by the pool, it can mean commandeering the TV for awhile, sitting down at the piano and playing just for fun, knitting without falling asleep in my project, or taking the kids somewhere other than the grocery store. I need to be careful to walk the line between having zero plans and accomplishing absolutely nothing for weeks at a time and making so many goals that even family time and hobbies feel like work.

What have you done to relax this summer?

 

 

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The Power of Books

I hope everyone has read at least one life-changing book, but I think that many times books change us as readers without our even realizing it. For example, this article at Smithsonian.com discusses a study that was published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that those who read Harry Potter, “might develop greater empathy and tolerance toward people with disadvantaged backgrounds.” Based on observation, it seems that my students who are Percy Jackson fans seem to not have any negative stigma regarding ADHD. In the series, it’s a known fact that many demigods have ADHD and dyslexia, since their ability to pay attention to lots of different things helps them in battle, and their brains are hardwired to read Ancient Greek, not modern English. In the hopes that students will show more empathy towards those who are different from them, physically or otherwise, I’ve read “Out of My Mind” to my class for years, and I have many colleagues who read “Wonder” to their classes for the same reason.

I think that it’s equally important that literature featuring protagonists from different cultural backgrounds are read by children of any race or cultural background. Everyone deserves to read about a character with whom they can identify, but they also all benefit from reading about others to broaden their perspective. This is precisely why the books I offer students to choose from for our historical fiction unit featured a wide variety of protagonists: Esperanza Rising features a Mexican girl who emigrates to the US; Bud, Not Buddy features an African-American boy looking for his father; The Watsons Go to Birmingham features an African-American family from Michigan who travel to Alabama in 1963; Number the Stars features a Jewish girl in Denmark and her best friend, a Christian girl whose sister died as part of the Resistance during WWII; In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson features a Chinese girl who emigrates to America in the 1940’s; Sylvia & Aki features two girls based on a true story, Sylvia is Latina and is not allowed to attend the “white” school and Aki is Japanese-American and is sent to an internment camp during WWII.

What books do you use to enhance your curriculum, teach your students life lessons, or give them a different perspective of the world?