Today I want to challenge your thinking about your summer. So, I’ve collected twenty of the best ways to make this summer one of learning. This is a blog post / podcast simulpost. You’ll find the same content in slightly different form so you can read or listen to this content. Enjoy!
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Listen to this Blog Post
Not a Single Way to Get Back a Summer
As the Master of Trinity College said to the great runner, Abrams, in Chariots of Fire (the great movie about Abram’s battle with Eric Liddell to win races in the 1924 Paris Olympics),
“Life slips by, Abrams, life slips by!”
We have to think differently about summer. I hope this is your wake up call.
Booker T Washington in his autobiography, Up from Slavery says,
“The number of people ready to consume one’s time to no purpose is almost countless.”
I would add to this. The number of apps ready to consume one’s time to no purpose is almost countless.
“There are a million ways to lose a day but not even a single way to get one back,”
says Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister in Waltzing with Bears: Managing Risks on Software Projects. Likewise, there are a million ways to spend a summer but not even a single way to get one back. So, use your summer well.
Here are twenty tips to have a summer that matters. From enjoying the moment to establishing routines to make your more relevant and current during the school year, pick a few tips that work for you and be intentional.
Don’t save time, savor time. Enjoy the moments. Put down your phone and laugh, be in the moment,
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time,” says Marthe Roly-Curin.
It is ok to savor time, with a long sip of coffee or reading a book in the park. I have to ask myself when I look down and get sucked into Facebook for 30 minutes whether I savored it or if it just slipped through my fingers.
2. Slash Screentime
Be wary of how much time you spend looking at a screen. See if you can lower the time you spend by setting goals and spending that time doing something more meaningful to you.
Now that we have screentime reported to us on many phones, track it and work to spend less time looking at your mobile device.
3. Go off the grid.
Even better, take some time off the grid. If you delete the apps for social media, you’re not deleting the social media service. You can install them back when you need them.
Intentionally disconnect and go places where you’re unreachable to every single person. (Just let your close family know so they don’t worry!)
4. Plan Your Adventures
As former Disney Executive VP Lee Cockerell says,
“Someday, ASAP and when I get time is not a system.”
Be intentional about what you’d like to do this summer!
Summer Goal Posters. In my family, we like to create and color summer goal posters with fun, free, and epic things we want to do. We started doing this after the end of one summer when one of my children said, “I didn’t get to do anything I wanted to do” and I said – “When did you decide what you wanted to do and when did you tell someone?”
When the kids were young, we put these up on the wall in the hall and tried to check off at least once a week.
5. Learn Something New
Ernest Hemingway says
“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
I would add that people who think they know everything have proven their ability to learn anything.
So, decide how you’re going to learn. Start by exploring something new that you’d like to learn, but also you can set yourself up for future learning by taking the time to set up the apps and tools to make learning easy both this summer and when you go back to school.
But I’d like to add that children might not remember individual days but they remember the moment they first rode a bike, first went to an aquarium or learned something new. It is exciting to teach and show children things so if you have some children (grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc.) get out there and take them somewhere new and exciting.
Set Up Apps for Learning and Listening
6. Organize Podcasts for Learning
Curate and listen to podcasts! I use Castro because it has this amazing inbox feature that lets me sort through and set the order of how I listen. It also removes quiet spaces and amplifies voices for listening.
7. Organize Blogs in a Reader
Feedly is an excellent tool for subscribing to blogs and news sources if you prefer reading instead.
8. Tweak Your Tablet for Learning
9. Create Purposeful Playlists
Making playlists on YouTube can be great instruments for learning. For example, I’m learning about my new awesome note-taking/list-making app called Notion through YouTube playlists with videos that can help me level-up my skills.
10. Find a Good Group
Sometimes it takes some playing around and experimentation to find that group that is right for you. If you prefer face-to-face groups, check your local library or coffee shop for book clubs and other hobby groups. Get a tribe!
11. Subscribe to Newsletters
My best writing goes into the email newsletter I send out once a week. You can go to coolcatteacher.com/newsletter to subscribe but you can also subscribe to sites like SmartBrief and others that send summaries to your inbox. Take time to read and organize your email newsletters like you want them.
12. Reclaim Your Inbox
While you’re in your email inbox, you can use a tool like unroll.me or mailstrom.co to remove spam and junk mail subscriptions so you’re less cluttered. Or, you can add inbox rules to put newsletters into newsletter folders. If you want to get some newsletters, it is probably best to make those go into your inbox instead of a folder.
13. Go to the Library (or Dance Class or the Pool)
Go to the library and check out some books. In the article “Quantifying and Valuing the Well-Being Impacts of Culture and Sport,” Fujiwara and his coauthors found that
“a significant association was found between frequent library use and reporting well being. The same was true of dancing, swimming, and going to plays, but they also found it hard to tell whether happy people go to the library or going to the library makes people happy.”
In addition, reading library books on paper is great especially if you usually read ebooks on a device that keeps pinging with notifications. This way, you can read without those interruptions.
14. Check Out Audiobooks (Or Buy Some)
Now is also a perfect time to get set up to check out audiobooks from your local library using a tool like overdrive. Just go to the library and ask how you can get set up.
15. Organize Your eBooks
If you read Kindle as I do, now is a great time to organize your collections. You can also add to your collection.
16. Create Pinterest Idea Boards
I’ve organized boards by months so I can go in and grab ideas. The organization now will help you do better later. Don’t forget to be specific on your boards and purpose of what you’re collecting. And remember if you work with something more secretive like Prom, you can make a private board for yourself and others.
Remember What Matters
But if we learn great knowledge but forget to learn about those around us, we’re missing out on so much. So, remember to get to know people.
17. Get to Know Your Family (Again)
Play a game like Face Off or tell stories. How well do you know your children? How well do you know each other? Spend time with one another. Talk to each other. Put your phones in a basket and turn off the TV.
18. Learn About Your Students
“We should seek to be fellow students with the pupil and should learn of, as well as with him if we would be most helpful to him.”
When students get notes from us, it is encouraging. But you can also ask them to write back to you so you can get to know them before school starts. (Check out 5 Ways to Connect with Your Students Over the Summer.)
19. Create a Summer Learning PLN
You can create a Google Classroom just for you and some teacher friends to learn together and share over the summer. This is a great place to share ideas.
20. Be Intentional
Tomorrow we’ll be talking with another educator about getting the most of your summer but I’ll tell you that many people spend too much time pursuing happiness and far too little time being happy.
In the book The Organized Mind by Danel Levitin, he says,
“Recent research in social psychology has shown that happy people are not people who have more, rather they are people who are happy with what they already have.”
Sometimes, though, you can find happiness in the oddest places.
In his article New Harvard Research Reveals a Fun Way to Be Successful, Shawn Achor says,
“the simplest thing you can do is a two-minute email praising or thanking one person that you know. We’ve done this at Facebook, at US Foods, we’ve done this at Microsoft. We had them write a two-minute email praising or thanking one person they know, and a different person each day for 21 days in a row. What we find is this dramatically increases their social connection which is the greatest predictor of happiness we have in organizations. It also improves teamwork.”
But in the end, remember that slow, steady, positive change is what gets us there. Innovate like a turtle. Lose weight like a turtle. Take small baby steps and small habit changes each day so you can head towards the goals and dreams that make your heart sing.
One of the fastest paths to discontent that I’ve ever traveled is one where I only think about myself and what I want. Serving and loving others is a great joy.
So, dear teacher — make this a summer that you savor. You get one chance to live it one second at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time you’ll live it and then, it will be gone. I have a sign on my wall that says “we don’t remember the days, we remember the moments.” So, make some moments that matter and you’ll find you lived a summer that mattered.