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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Growth Mindset and Always Learning

If you read so much as the title of my blog, you probably know I’m an educator, but I’m also a parent to 3 boys (all age 9 and under). Not long before the school year ended for my sons, we sat down and made some goals for the summer, because when you have a lot of time on your hands, it is sadly really easy to let it all slip away. Before we realize what has happened, it will be late July and we will have accomplished nothing more scintillating than watching a whole lot of Netflix if we don’t form some semblance of a plan.

They chose their own goals, but I gave them some suggestions. Some goals are things like working on belt loops for Cub Scouts, going to the local science museum and zoo, swimming, and reading a book now and again.

One of the things I know they need to work on is their fine motor skills and handwriting. While some kids may get really excited about practicing forming row after row of individual letters and contrived words, mine simply don’t. I knew that printing handwriting pages off the internet would only end in tears (more than likely mine). Instead, we have implemented Family Art Time. Each night one of us chooses a YouTube video that features “how to” step by step instructions for drawing a fairly simple picture, and all of us attempt to draw it…even the grown-ups. For now, we’ve been choosing from kidsarthub’s channel, but their last video was uploaded 2 years ago, so I know we’ll need to find another at some point. We each have our own little blank notebook to use as a sketchbook, and I hope that they realize at the end of the summer how much their drawing improves over time. We might even revisit some of our early videos in August to see how much better we are at drawing something familiar after so much practice.
We’re still very early in the summer, but so far the results are good. The boys are excited about family art time, they work to control their pencils carefully to create what the video shows, all of us are improving our drawing skills, and we’re spending time together as a family.

One of the things I love about Family Art Time is that it has given us a natural situation to nurture a growth mindset in our boys. They see Mom and Dad erasing when we make mistakes. We have already had one kid remark in frustration that he just isn’t very good at drawing the picture du jour, which led us into a conversation about how practicing is the best way to get better at things.

Want to follow my journey as an artist? I’ve been documenting it on Instagram @thecurriculumnerd.