If you managed to make it through your first year of teacher relatively unscathed, you should give yourself a much-needed pat on the back.
After all, it’s common knowledge that roughly half of all teachers don’t make it through the profession beyond the first five years.
And believe it or not, one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of your long-term commitment to teaching is actually how you spend your summers.
Think about it. Sure, while the public at large might think that teachers’ time off represents little more than time to unwind and relax on the couch, there’s much more to it than that.
Considering how many extra hours educators put in on any given day, the summers are essentially for making up for lost time when it comes to your wallet and well-being.
So, how can you ensure that you make the absolute most of your time off rather than just lounging around? Here are three tips for doing just that.
Get Yourself a Side Gig
The fact that teachers in many districts are criminally underpaid is no secret. Especially if you don’t have your paychecks spread out over the summer, sometimes making ends meet can be easier said than done on an educator’s salary.
Taking on some sort of part-time job might be out of necessity, the desire to have extra spending money or as a means to fight boredom. Regardless, consider options that aren’t going to eat up all of your summer such as a few hours here and there at a retail store or, ideally, a role where you won’t be running into students (ironically, bartending is quite popular among teachers).
Another popular option is becoming a ridesharing driver, especially considering you can make your own hours and likewise won’t be running into any kids during your shift. Read up on how to become an Uber driver and see if such a gig makes sense for you.
Commit to Change Your Classroom Management
Especially for first-year teachers, the universal struggle doesn’t come in the form of mastery of your subject but classroom management. Discipline and confidence aren’t learned overnight, and establishing authority in your classroom is nearly impossible if you don’t do so from the word “go.”
To give yourself a jump-start on being more of a disciplinarian next year, think about what you can do to build yourself up over the summer. Some ideas for doing so include…
- Writing an action plan: document as much as you can that went wrong last year and put together a step-by-step plan to snuff out such problems next year
- Reading up on the subject: chances are you didn’t have much time to research classroom management during your first year, so much sure to brush up on classics like Harry Wong’s The First Days of School during your free time
- Focusing on your fitness: exercise is essential to teachers, as building up your confidence and strength might be just what you need to establish that dominating presence in the classroom
Consider Some Professional Development
Especially during the tail-end of the summer, it’s always a good idea to get yourself back into the “teacher” mindset by taking part in some professional development opportunities. After all, educators should strive to hone their skills even when they’re outside of the classroom.
Check in with your school or county office beyond the year is out to see what classes or workshops they might be offering: if you’re lucky, you can even get paid for them, too. If nothing else, it’s always valuable to meet and network with other teachers to talk out the experiences of your first year to see how you can improve.
If you can survive your first year of teaching, you can go into your second year with a total sense of confidence. Simply make sure you spend your time wisely over the summer so you can return to the classroom refreshed and ready for whatever comes next.