Maybe it’s just me, but I feel our society has grown progressively more demanding of working professionals, especially teachers. Where once an individual was recognized for going the extra mile, we’re now expected to go the extra ten miles. Practice and experience are all well and good, but how many conferences have you attended? Have you done any public speaking? Submitted any articles to online magazines? Are you reading the latest books concerning your area of study? What volunteer credentials do you have?

Honestly, the pressure to exceed can be pretty overwhelming.

Unlike most professions however, teaching comes with its own unique layer of stress: summertime. During the warmer months, while students are away on vacation, many educators undergo a rigorous regime of career-development. We read specialized books, attend education conferences, develop engaging lesson plans for the coming year, build our professional networks, take classes, and maybe oversee a few science camps. I don’t know about you, but I got tired just from reading that sentence.

Learning to Relax           

Personal growth is important. We should always seek to improve ourselves by refining both knowledge and skill, but this shouldn’t come at the expense of rest and rejuvenation. There’s a reason why burning the candle at both ends never works out. Do the work you need to do, but also make time for yourself and the things you enjoy. Sometimes the hardest task for us to accomplish is learning how to relax.

Speaking of which, if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for how to unwind this summer, why not try one of the following?

  • Spend time playing board games with friends and family.
  • Take the opportunity to travel, even if it’s just to a local area you’ve never seen before.
  • Take up a relaxing hobby like origami, gardening, or adult coloring books.
  • Spend time outdoors and get plenty of sun.
  • Take time to exercise and switch to a healthier diet.
  • Knock something off your bucket list, or if you don’t have one, consider making one!
Recharged and Ready

In my experience, the single biggest indicator of an effective educator is a sense of joy inside the classroom. There is a positive energy within the walls, a culture of acceptance and inspiration. Learning is fun, humor-filled, and natural. I believe that if you don’t have a genuine passion for life, you can’t cultivate this type of environment within your classroom.

While it’s admirable to attend professional development seminars over the summer months, don’t forget to protect your spirit. You can’t be passionate about life if you’re constantly bogged down by stress and worry, and believe me, your students will notice. Make time to do things you enjoy, and which cause you to shine from the inside out. Why? Because your students deserve optimism, generosity, and passion. For that matter, so do you!

What about you? How do you relax during the summer months? Feel free to share your insights in the comments below!

Content for this blog was drawn from the writings of Terra Tarango.

*Image courtesy of Universal Pictures’ Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.