“Woo-hoo!!! It’s Summer Break and I don’t have to even think about school for 3 months!!!” As much as I might think and dream that, beyond my first naive summer break it has never happened. Summers are a great time to prepare for the future year! Grades have been turned in, rooms have been packed up, and suddenly our schedules are relatively open from 7:30-4:30 during the week. These are the five things I do during my summer breaks to prepare for the future.
Summer is a great time to complete professional development. Summer break was when I had the time and focus to take graduate courses toward my teacher certification renewal. Many universities offer summer graduate and/or online programs specifically to fit teachers’ schedules. Another option to college classes is taking a levels class in several different music approaches. For more information on summer courses, check out the following links: AOSA, Kodaly, Dalcroze, and MLT.
After the first week or so, I like to dive into some personal reflection. I think about the lessons and units that went really well and look for patterns in my teaching. But I think more importantly I dredge up the memories of the lessons that did not go as anticipated. These are the lessons I learn from and grow as a teacher. With these lessons, I analyze how it was organized and presented. Often in these reflections I realize I skipped a logical step because the leap was clear to me, but obviously I needed to slow down for my kids. Once I take the time to reflect, I am able to revise it for future use or find something to replace it.
Every year there are several concerts to be planned and orchestrated. I like to use the summer to brainstorm possible concert themes and songs for each one. Personally I like to have 2 possible themes for each concert narrowed down. Then once the school year starts, I can pick the theme that best suits the students. For each song on my list, I write where to find it – in a specific publication, music publisher, or online – in case that theme is chosen. Having these themes fleshed out also helps me with any long range planning in case I can use any concert songs to teach specific objectives too.
With so many great books out there, summers are a great time to get your nose in a book. I try to balance my book choices between those about education and books for enjoyment. Depending on how the previous year went, my summer reading might be focused on a single topic – classroom management or a specific music approach for example – or cover a wide array of topics. I spent my summers in the library as a kid so I love reading, but if reading isn’t your cup of tea many books are available in an audio recording or there are amazing podcasts that will enrich your teaching and can take your mind on a journey.
This is summer break! Definitely take time for yourself. Self-care in one of the most important things you can do. Maybe you plant a garden, start meditating, or get regular manicures. Perhaps you prefer running, traveling, or spending lots of time with your family. Whatever will restore your mind, body, and spirit is how you need to spend your summer – in a few short months school will be back in session and your kids will need you to be your best.
However you spend your summer, I hope you thoroughly enjoy it. You worked hard to build relationships with your students and have an awesome year and deserve your summer to be everything you want it to be!