I’ve been in education for 14 years. I’ve had a summer job since I was 16…including all those years of teaching and tech coaching. Even when I moved to an 11 month position 6 years ago, I had a summer job. I taught summer school, tutored, nannied, worked for a gym, worked on summer curriculum, worked tech support for these same projects, managed summer building use and more. Many summers I did more than one of these jobs!!
This summer I did not. For the very first time in my teenage and adult life, I didn’t have a second, third or even fourth job this summer.
I’ve struggled with balance and made it my one word of 2016. This was in my mind when the opportunity came up to take this summer to myself.
I spent the last week of work at ISTE 2016 in Denver. I learned so very much – then I began my summer of adventure. I joined my parents in Billings, MT. They had been on the road in their RV for 10 days. After I joined, we spent a little over 2 weeks traveling around 12 states. We stopped and visited National Parks, Historic Places, National Battlefields, tourist traps and more! Perhaps just as important as our route and choice of stops was the fact that we had very little wifi and mobile data access for the entire trip! There were times when we could connect, but not continuously!
(click the map to see the Google My Map I created to show off our path and stops!)
My parents are both retired teachers, so you can imagine how much the three of us learned this summer! When we saw a sign for a museum, historical marker or national park we quickly checked the map and made a stop! We saw wildlife galore (pronghorns, mule deer, white tail deer, elk, a bear, buffalo, trumpet swans, thousands of prairie dogs and more!) and more beautiful scenic views than I thought possible.
And here I am – I go back to work in less than a week and I feel rested, relaxed, and ready to work. We have a huge new program starting at my school. I am ready to take on the challenge!
I am lucky to be in a place now where I did not require the extra income – early in my teaching career that was not the case. I know that this is not always possible to take a whole month off from work and spend it “gallivanting” around the country, but what I do think is possible is finding ways to unplug and relax. Here are the things I think made the difference for me:
- Learn something new – out of your normal area of learning and teaching
- Unplug – I love being connected, but we all need a time to disconnect and listen to the quiet
- Find your quiet space – this might be in front of huge mountains, at the pool, in your garden or someplace different. Find that space you can just spend time in the quiet…and do it!
- Spend time with people you love – family, friends, kids, etc. These are the people that will recharge you!
- Spend time alone – I know this seems contradictory…but it’s important to find time to think and learn to help yourself unwind and relax.
- Figure out how to say no – Do what is necessary and cut out some of the extra things. You will be asked to do more (present here, develop this or that, collaborate, help someone with a project, etc) and there are times you need to do those things. Learning when you need to step back and find time for you is something I’ve worked on for the last 35+ years and I’m still learning! (I said no to something I really wanted to do this past week because I really don’t have the time to commit to something else)
I’m hoping these lessons, and the time I’ve spent practicing them this summer, will help me as we take on this new project and workload this school year!
What do you do to recharge and relax?
(here are a few of my favorite pictures from my trip!)
Beartooth Pass, MT
Coming down from Beartooth Pass, MT into Yellowstone
4th of July & Cody Stampede Parade, Cody, WY
Bighorn County Museum, MT
Pony Express Museum, St Joseph, MO
Mount Rushmore, SD
Badlands National Park, SD
The Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD
Devils Tower, SD
New River Gorge Bridge, WV
St Louis Arch – Jefferson National Expansion Memorial