I like to build the boat while I’m sailing it. How does this translate to my teaching? One positive is that I am highly responsive to student needs and can pivot at any moment. But the consequences to this way of working caught up to me when I was a new teacher. Trying to be an active duty wife, mother, and teacher during our multiple moves put me in a constant stress spiral. Everything was an emergency. After my fifth year of teaching, things finally slowed down. So much so that I was convinced I was going to have a boring summer. After a few days of drinking wine on our deck and serving as the mom taxi (not in that order!), I decided to make some moves that would lead to efficiency, both at home and in the classroom, during the next school year. Why not use summer as a testing ground for school year improvements?
During that summer, my number one project was streamlining my role as the main family cook, grocery shopper, and nutritionist. I had just gotten a smartphone for the first time ever and it was rocking my world. Surfing the web, I found a treasure-trove of suggestions for apps to alleviate some of the chaos in my home.
The first app I purchased was a now-defunct cooking app that would quickly upload recipes from websites. I also typed in many of my personal recipes, and created a list of over 500 recipes for different meals, seasons, and types. A few summers ago I transitioned to Paprika Recipe Manager and it’s even more efficient at organizing recipes and helping me build my grocery list. (Please note that this is NOT an affiliate link, I just really love this app & want to share the info!)
During the summer you have a lot of time, maybe too much time, to workout. I work better with tight schedules, so in the summer I tend to procrastinate, pushing my workout time later and later in the day. Now I know that the best time for me to work out is just after my first cup of coffee (you gotta have priorities, am I right?). I’ve used apps, videos, and online workouts to inspire my daily workouts. Here are a few of my favorite sweat-it-out inspos:
- Running with Nike Run Club. This app is free. It’s TOTALLY FREE (*shouts gleefully*) and free is my favorite. You don’t have to be a runner, and you don’t have to have a treadmill. Running is just about the cheapest workout out there. You need good shoes and depending on your preference and gender, maybe a sports bra. That’s it. Surf through the totally free guided workouts on the Nike Run Club App. I’m also a huge fan of all of the Couch to 5K apps. After sedentary winters, I need some structure to get me off of the couch and the Couch to 5K app is a great guide for getting me off my tuchus!
- Just keep swimming. Next to running, swimming is one of the cheapest sports out there. You need a swim suit, goggles, and access to a pool. I buy punch cards at my local rec center to access the pool and can swim for about $2.50 each visit. Not too shabby! I have a ridiculous hack for helping myself remember the workouts-I tape a zip-top baggie to my water bottle and slip a list of the different workout laps into the baggie. Example: 4×25 free with 20 second rest in between, 6×100 medley, etc. For workout inspo, I like active.com and self.com – both include free & accessible swim workouts for any level.
What other activities can you do now that will pay off during your school year? Read on!
- Map out your beginning of year activities. You probably know all of the basics of the school routines right now, and the in-class activities you like to do to create a safe and fun classroom culture. Mapping them out now will make those BOY teacher work days more efficient and less stressful. Remember-skipping team building, norming, and classroom rules never pays off in the long run. Plan the classroom structures and routines now!
- An apple a day… Every time I am able to schedule myself or a family member a doctor’s appointment, I feel like I’ve earned an Academy Award. Doctor’s offices rarely have after school appointments available, so why not take care of your medical needs now! During my first week of summer break, I sit down with a calendar, pick up the phone and start scheduling 2 months worth of doctor’s appointments. Eye exams, school athletic physicals, teeth cleaning and annual exams are summer activities at Casa de Crosswalk. Get it done now so you won’t have to make sub plans for a dentist visit during the school year!
- Find your anchor text. Much like my weekly hashtag to inspire my week (#attitudeofgratitude!), I also read teacher-themed books to inspire my school year. Reading authentic and uplifting teaching books makes me feel like Rocky, downing raw eggs and running up the stairs in Philly. Every summer I pick 1-2 books written by teachers, for teachers, to improve my craft. Ask friends and colleagues for book suggestions, or check out teacher blogs for book ideas!
How can starting recipe organization, working out, and scheduling doctor’s appointments during the summer all help you be a better teacher in the fall? Habits take practice! Practice meal planning and doubling recipes (freezing half for a future meal) for drama-free family dinners. Make a commitment to workout for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. If you are 6 weeks into a workout schedule by the time school starts, you are more likely to stick with it. And getting the teeth cleanings and school physicals completed in the summer will make for less hectic after school errands.