Summer is an important time for educators. While some people debate what educators should or shouldn’t do over the summer, ultimately it is YOUR summer and YOUR plans. Here are five things to consider as you plan your summer.
Now, there are so many different ways you can spend your summer. If you’re not intentional about it, summer will just be gone in a flash just like everything else.
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#1: Rest Up
First of all, I think one of the most important things that we can do is to rest up. Did you know that lack of sleep can reduce your pain tolerance and causes to perceive events as more stressful than we would otherwise?
Now, there are not a lot of studies on how often teachers sleep because I’ve looked. A 2008 Ball State University study found that 43% of teachers said they slept an average of 6 hours or less per night. About a fourth said their teaching skills were significantly diminished due to lack of sleep.
You may not know this, but scientists say sleep deprivation will kill you faster than food deprivation. If we sleep badly, we often crave a high-carbohydrate diet which can make us overweight.
Most of us teachers start the summer with what researchers call a “sleep debt”. A sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get.
Generally, experts recommend around eight hours of sleep per night, but you can’t just have a marathon and sleep for three or four straight days, although that does sound nice, it’s just not possible for most of us.
So if you’re chronically sleep-deprived, what experts say is that you just need an extra hour or two a night.
In a quote from Scientific American from their article, “Can you catch up on lost sleep?”
“Go to bed when you are tired, and allow your body to wake you in the morning (no alarm clock allowed). You may find yourself catatonic in the beginning of the recovery cycle: Expect to bank upward of ten hours shut-eye per night. As the days pass, however, the amount of time sleeping will gradually decrease.”
Now I know some of you will want to stay up late, but listen to your body clock and determine your individual sleeping pattern.
For example, every morning at 5:30, I am going to be awake. There’s just nothing I can do about it, but I have found that I can catch a quick nap sometimes at 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, so I try to do that as much as possible and not have guilt, even though that’s very hard for a farmer’s daughter like me who really had the importance of work ethics stressed.
This is your only time, teachers, to get caught up, and you really need to do that so that you’ll feel less stressed in the fall.
Secondly, we need to disconnect and hang it up. You know, a Louisiana second-grader’s homework recently went viral. The girl said,
“I don’t like the phone because my parents are on the phone every day. I hate my mom’s phone and wish she never had one.”
Social media addiction can also be associated with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and ADHD.
Our summertime is an excellent time to break that social media addiction if you think you might have one.
Give Yourself a Digital Detox
Honestly, I think all of us can do with a digital detox for a week or two. Now, I know that sounds like a long time to be off Facebook, but you can start in small ways.
First of all, refuse to let phones sit down with you at the table. Enjoy your food in the company of the people there.
When my pastor goes on vacation, he has a smartphone basket, and when everybody enters the door to go on vacation, they put their phones into the basket, and then when they leave from vacation, they pick them up. I think that is a fantastic way to do it.
The Awesome (and Often Ignored Feature) of EVERY Smartphone
I also want to introduce you to a fancy awesome feature of your smartphone – yes, you have an off button. Take that button, push it, turn it off, and leave it off for a period of time.
Honestly, that peace of mind that you get from a period of time of disconnection is awesome.
Truthfully, when we go on vacation and I totally go offline, it takes me 2 or 3 days to stop wondering what’s happening on Facebook, stop wondering what’s happening on Twitter, and truthfully just focus on the people right in front of me, but I feel so good and recentered and remembering what is important when I have that digital detox or just go off the grid and get offline.
I think all of us really, really need to do it, even when we’re just at home, take the phone away from yourself. Sometimes, if I can’t trust myself to take the phone away from myself, I will get my husband Kip to take the phone away from me, and I’ll say, “Here, Kip, take it, don’t give it back to me for a period of time.”
#3 Laugh It Up
Now, the next thing, #3, is to laugh it up.
Laughter decreases stress hormones, increases oxygen in your blood, strengthens your immune system, releases endorphins, and so much more.
How can we laugh more?
Make funny friends. First of all, make a decision that you are going to spend more time laughing. One way is to have crazy friends who make you laugh. I love awesome people who make me laugh.
When I go to a conference, I like to hang with people like Jerry Blumengarten – I mean, the guy wears a cape.
One summer, I went with my son and husband and then Kevin Honeycutt and Angela Maiers– two of the funniest people I know – to the Blue Man Group concert in Orlando. It was just something we planned and said,
“Hey, you know, we’re all going to be in the same place at the same time, let’s do it.”
I still laugh thinking about that night.
Play with your pets. Now, if you don’t have a funny friend, we all have funny little friends – we have children, we have dogs, we have pets. Honestly, I love my cats, but my cats are not funny unless they’re a kitten, and then they’re just kind of annoying.
So dogs are funny, there are just so many things that are funny. Do find funny beings to hang out with.
Honestly, decide to be the kind of person who sees things as funny and laughs at yourself.
I think that’s the easiest way to laugh more.
Go with old standbys. If I’m really looking for a laugh, I’ll just look up old Tim Conway shticks on YouTube, and I am going to laugh hilariously – especially there is one where he is on a budget airline, and it cracks me up and I can’t stop laughing. I love seeing that one, or when Tim Conway numbs his leg at the dentist. Those are two instant laughs, or, you know, just Young Frankenstein or something like that – although, honestly, I find more fun in laughing at people that I know than I do people on TV shows.
#4 Schedule Checkups
So #4 is not so much fun as the last one: it is having a checkup.
Now those of us who have been putting off our eye exams or all that preventative healthcare now is the time to do it.
I have read that only half of checkups have preventative healthcare. If you just get a regular old checkup, it doesn’t really do much good.
It’s when you do the preventative healthcare that it really makes a difference. So do go ahead, and if you’re behind on that, get that off your mind, because here’s the thing that happens: if we’re overdue for our checkup, we will remind ourselves a thousand times during the next school year, and every time we do, we feel guilty and it’s a downer. Don’t do that.
Go ahead and get the checkup and be done with it. Then schedule a reward for yourself afterward, like a night at the movies, or do something with a friend.
#5 Level Up
The fifth one is, after you’ve rested up, after you’ve laughed it up, and checked it up, and you’ve hung it up and had your digital detox, do take a little time to level it up.
Now, I choose to stay out of the drama, there was a drama dust-up recently on Twitter where people were talking about what’s a good teacher and what they should be doing in the summer.
Honestly, I’ve got enough drama in my real life than to worry about drama in online life. I mean, be kind, be respectful, I think teachers are just tired and some are just fussy and they choose to fuss about things that are truly not that important and really lower the nobility of our profession.
I just prefer to try to level up and say, “Okay, how can I improve my thinking?” Now, I always keep something I call the Big Three: what are the three things that I want to improve next?
Performance art and room design, these are two big things that I’m looking at.
So right now, I’ve tweeted it out, I’ve asked on Facebook, and I’ll ask be asking in my newsletter:
If you have an awesome computer lab you’d like to show off, would you please tweet me a picture, especially if you have a Mac lab or if you have digital film with a Chroma key, I’ve tried to decide, you know, “Should I have a Chromakey curtain? Should I have a Chromakey stand? What should I ask for as we plan the next several years in the new computer lab where I’m going to be working at my new school?”
Anyway, so that’s one thing I’m looking at, but remember this:
Innovate like a turtle. You want to have slow, steady progress forward.
I’ve still got to do work on 3D printing, honestly, I struggle with that 3D printer although it’s awesome.
I’ve got to study up on that some. I need to level up again in my digital filmmaking – in particular, how I teach three-point lighting, I want to improve that and how I teach the capture of sound.
That’s another thing that I need to improve and level up on this summer.
So what are your Big Three? List those and kind of take some time to investigate and do that.
I also want to learn more about how to help others improve and use technology in their own classroom — especially really, really busy, stressed-out teachers, because I think that’s pretty much all of us.
I’ve given you five ways to take yourself up
So I’ve given you five ways to take yourself up so that you’ll be up when you start school in the fall. Remember, this time will just zip by if you’re not intentional.
Think about what you want to do.
- Do read some of those books you love.
- Do get some of those things done.
- Do get that closet cleaned out and some of those things that you want to do.
But remember: you’ve got to be a human being sometimes and not just a human doing.
We teachers, we work so hard – it’s so easy to just be human doings and not human beings. So I hope you have some time this summer, remarkable educators, to be a human being and so you can be a more remarkable you this fall.
You are awesome, thank you so much for listening, and I appreciate all of you remarkable educators out there who give me lots of encouragement when I wonder, “What on earth am I doing, teaching all day and going home and recording a podcast at night?”
Thanks for your encouragement. Get out there and be remarkable, and will you have a remarkable summer? I hope you do!
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