Teacher holding a cup of coffee with title text 'From Burnout to Bliss: Keeping Teachers Excited for Summer & Beyond'

Matt Homrich-Knieling June 5, 2023

From Burnout to Bliss: Keeping Teachers Excited for Summer and Beyond

Matt Homrich-Knieling

Writer and Educator

By the end of the school year, most teachers are, quite frankly, burnt out. Even the most enthusiastic, passionate, and energized teacher is likely to feel a sense of exhaustion by the time that final bell rings.

Teaching is a profession that requires being “on” each day: leading and facilitating engaging lessons, making over 1,500 decisions–big and small–every day, supporting young people’s academic, emotional, and mental growth, and so much more.

It’s no surprise, then, that so many teachers look forward to summer as an opportunity to unwind, relax, and recharge. As school leaders, this is exactly what you hope for your educators: thoroughly enjoying summer break to return in the fall feeling refreshed and ready to take on a new school year!

Sometimes, though, recharging is easier said than done. Below is a list of suggestions to help teachers maximize their time off this summer.

Create a Summer Bucket List

Summer break almost always goes by quickly. Creating a summer bucket list is one way to be intentional about how you want to spend your time during this break. To create a bucket list, think about your answers to the following questions: What helps you feel relaxed? What gives you energy? What brings you joy and fulfillment? What did you feel like was missing or lacking from your life during the school year?

Your answers to these questions can become the items on your summer bucket list, ensuring that you make the most of this time.

Spend Time with Friends and Family

Despite spending so much time around young people, teaching can be a very isolating profession. By the time most teachers get home from work, they’ve often used up so much of their social energy that visiting with friends or family can feel like more work than relaxation. Summer is a great time to reconnect with friends and family and invest in those relationships. Using this time as an opportunity to make spending time with friends and family a priority and a habit can make it more accessible to maintain as the new school year begins!

Engage in Self-Care

Self-care looks different for everyone: going on walks, drawing or writing, getting a massage, exercising. Whatever self-care looks like for you, make it a priority this summer. If you’re someone who tends to de-prioritize self-care, this might take some thoughtful intention-setting. You can start by making a list of activities that give you energy and joy. From that list, you might create goals or expectations for how frequently you want to engage in those activities. For example, you might want to set aside one hour each day to read, or you might want to go on morning walks at least 4 days each week. Whatever your self-care goals are, stating them clearly can help make sure summer doesn’t slip away without concerted time for self-care.

Engage in Community Care

Self-care, though incredibly important and necessary, is often an individual act. And as we’ve mentioned, teaching can be isolating. Community care, on the other hand, is the practice of engaging in life-giving activities in community with others. This might look like joining an already established community, like a book club, an art class, community-based organizations or volunteer groups, or faith-based groups. This might also look like creating your own community. This could be education-related (i.e. a Wine and Whine group of educators who hold space for each other to vent and seek support and advice) or non-education (i.e. a weekly potluck with friends). Whatever community care looks like for you, it’s important to have a network of support that can help sustain you year-round!

Participate in Hobbies

The school year often leaves little time or energy for outside hobbies. What’s more, teaching can easily become an all-consuming profession, where one’s whole identity becomes defined by teaching. Engaging in unrelated hobbies can be an energizing experience that affirms your identity and practices outside of teaching.

Summer can also be used as a time to create a regular schedule of engaging in hobbies, making it easier to remain engaged as the school year kicks off. If, for example, you start attending a weekly art class in the summer evenings, this is more likely an activity you would maintain when the school year starts, which could help minimize burnout throughout the year.

Prepare for the Upcoming School Year (…or not!)

Some teachers really enjoy using some of their summer to get ahead of work for the upcoming school year: reflecting on and modifying lesson plans, prepping for new classes, researching new teaching techniques, attending professional conferences or workshops, etc. Sometimes, engaging in these work activities on your own time or from the comforts of home or a coffee shop can be relaxing and make the looming school year feel less daunting. If that’s you, great!

On the other hand, some teachers want to completely forget about school work during their summer and instead focus on things that they didn’t have time for during the school year. If that’s you, that’s great too! Try to avoid feelings of guilt for disengaging in school work during the summer. You deserve rest in whatever ways that looks like for you!

Combating turnover rates and creating a sustainable and supportive environment where teachers stay requires a great deal of capacity: creating strategic goals, implementing support systems, monitoring and responding to data, and more. BetterLesson is here to support districts through that process! Schedule a call with BetterLesson today to learn how we can collaborate and support!

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