20 Things All Teachers Must Add to Their Summer To-Do List


20 Things All Teachers Should Do Over Summer Break

After an exhausting year full of never-ending to-do lists, you finally made it!  You can practically smell the ocean breeze and taste sweet freedom.  But how do you make the most of your time off, especially after such a mentally and emotionally exhausting year? Here are twenty things all teachers should add to their summer to-do list.

1. Read a book not written for kids. 

When was the last time you read a book that was solely for you? Take a moment to think about what YOU want to delve into, without worrying about judgment. Do you fancy thrillers? Great. Are you more of a romance girl? Fantastic. Just want a trashy beach read? WHO CARES. Scour Goodreads, Book of the Month Club, or Reese Witherspoon’s Insta account for choices that speak to you. 

2. Make something crafty that isn’t for your classroom. 

Why should your students always reap the rewards of your Pinterest-loving heart? Go to Michael’s and wander the aisles for a craft that will be a perfect addition to your home. Whether that’s painting, crocheting, or Cricuting, put those hands to work as you just let yourself zone out. Still social distancing? Fill up your cart online!

3. Go an entire day without staring at a device.

There aren’t enough blue light glasses in the world to shield our eyes from computer strain, fatigue, and headaches that the past three months of Zoom meetings and Google Classroom have caused. Drop your device and be completely present with your family. Make an intentional effort to not scroll mindlessly on your phone or binge a Netflix show you only half like. See how you feel after going 24 hours tech-free! And feel free to drop kick the next person who mentions Seesaw or Flipgrid. 

4. Find a different way to give back to the world. 

The past year has been rough on all of us. Find a way to spread a little joy in a way that makes YOU happy. Donate to a cause that is close to your heart. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Just one small act can have a ripple effect on your entire community. 

5. Move your body to something that isn’t a GoNoodle song.

Hate running? DON’T DO IT. Find a sport or activity that fills your bucket and actually makes you excited to work out. Whether that is yoga, paddleboarding, or an Ultimate Frisbee League, do something that makes you sweat and releases much-needed endorphins. Solo exercise more your thing? There are tons of apps for that.

6. Catch up with the people you have been meaning to call for the past 9 months.

If you’ve been swamped and ignoring pretty much everyone from September until June, now is the perfect time to reach out and reconnect. Go for a hike with an old friend. Text your old college roommate. Pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t heard from in months.

7. Spend a day eating all the sweets (AKA the emergency stash of candy you keep hidden in your desk.)

Nothing screams “emergency” like doing three whole months of remote learning! For once, give yourself a free pass to celebrate your body and all that it has put up with for the past year. Yes, put “eat sugar” on your summer to-do list. Grab some pastries, ice cream, and that sugary drink you love so much. Don’t count any calories and just let yourself indulge. 

8. Allow yourself to splurge on that item you’ve had your eye on, that isn’t for your students or your classroom.

Are you dying to re-do your backyard? Want some cute new items for your teacher wardrobe? Still want one thousand school supplies even though you don’t technically need anymore? Go on with your bad self and drop a little dough on an item you keep responsibly taking out of your cart. 

9. Treat yourself to a spa day.

Whether you want to go to a luxury massage place or simply create your own zen-like haven at home, take one day to completely relax. Get a mani-pedi, a facial, or a rubdown and just enjoy! You spend so much time pouring into others that it is time you poured into yourself.

10. Book a staycation near your hometown. 

Want to get a change of scenery without hopping on a plane? Book a small staycation in a location that is within driving distance of your home. Gather the fam or a few friends and use that time to recharge. You’ll come back feeling like a brand new person! Or lock yourself in the bathroom with a good book, chocolate, and wine or hot tea for a DIY spa night.

11. Seek out PD that you are actually interested in. 

Many times, professional development is forced down our throats in a way that feels oppressive and downright insulting to our craft. Think about ways YOU want to grow as an educator, be it social-emotional learning or culturally responsive curriculum. A simple Google search will let you take courses or access webinars while you lounge by a pool. 

12. Pick up a hobby you have always wanted to try. 

Whether it’s guitar, calligraphy, or gardening, put those hands to use and finally get around to an activity you have been dying to try. It will feel so good being the student for a change!

13. Spend the whole day near a body of water. 

A summer to-do list needs water. Just staring at the water is supposed to bring all kinds of relaxation benefits that we don’t normally access during the school year. It doesn’t matter if it is the ocean, a lake, or a pool – grab some friends and just soak up the sun for an entire day. Just be sure to bring a hat and celebrity-sized glasses so former students don’t recognize you.  

14. Watch an R-rated movie that isn’t BrainPop or Schoolhouse Rocks.  

Buy a projector and hang it in your backyard, complete with twinkly lights. Rent a movie-on-demand, drink some wine, and pop some popcorn from the comfort of your living room. Why pay an arm and a leg when you can recreate the movie-going experience for a fraction of the cost?

15. Go to the park and have yourself a gourmet picnic. 

Invite a friend and pick an idyllic place to set down your blanket and goodies. Spend a few hours eating, laughing, and just enjoying all that the great outdoors has to offer. Your vampire skin will thank you for the Vitamin D!

16. Be a kid for a day and go to an amusement park. 

Remember when you’d get on a roller coaster and just carelessly scream your head off? Tap into those feelings of complete giddiness and stroll on over to your favorite amusement park. Eat crappy food and go on your favorite rides. Relish being a kid for a day! Can’t get to an amusement park? Recreate childhood joy by blowing bubbles, running through a sprinkler, or eating popsicles in the backyard.

17. Start a mindfulness practice to recover from the 30 kids screaming your name 24/7

After having 30 kids screaming your name 24/7, 9 months in a raw, nothing feels better than sweet, blissful silence. Download an app and try to get into the habit of meditating for just five minutes a day. This mindfulness practice will make you a better human and a more patient educator. The summer is a great way to start a new healthy habit that will carry over into the school year. 

18. Spend some time experimenting in the kitchen. 

You’re finally home at a reasonable hour and you don’t have a mountain of papers to grade.  Use that time to try out a bunch of new recipes.  Get those creative juices flowing as you whip up some new creations. 

19. Listen to a podcast that has nothing to do with education. 

Find a podcast that sparks your interest, makes you laugh, or comforts you. Listen to it as you do your errands and relish in listening to something that is just for your own personal enjoyment. 

20. Take this summer to-do list and throw it in the trash. 

Yes…you heard that right! We spend so much time making lists and checking them twice that who says we need even more lists during summer?! Take some time to just listen to your gut and do what it is best for YOU on your own time and schedule. You deserve it! 

Happy summer vacation, teacher friends! We made it!

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20 Things All Teachers Should Do Over Summer Break

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Abigail Courter is a fifth year music teacher at a K-8 private school in California.  She has taught general music, band, music technology, and performing arts.

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