July 12, 2011

The Restless Days of Summer

Most teachers I know gleefully count down the last days of school. Goodbye grading! See you next fall lesson planning! Have a great summer kiddos! Hellooooooo summer!

I am often among this collegial count down, being more than ready to put aside the intensity of the school year and catch my breath, read for fun, and most importantly, spend time with my family.  But behind my exhilaration on that last day of school, dread is lurking.  What on earth am I going to do with myself now?

Admittedly, I thrive on the intensity and the mental demands of the school year, plus I work wonders under pressure.  Sure, June is blissful with sleeping in, lunch dates, library visits, etc.  But as the summer wears on, lazy days begin to wear on my nerves and then the restlessness sets in.   

This summer I decided to reframe my restlessness.  I could let it fester in the back of my mind, or I could be proactive and actually enjoy my summer.  I came across this quote while reading The Happiness Project and felt a resounding "Aha!" 

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure.
Thomas A. Edison 
Progress.  Intentional growth and movement forward.  I'm not looking for a distraction but rather a focus for my mental energy and creativity.  So how am I intentionally growing as an educator during the summer?  

Blog:  Simply putting my thoughts out here for the world to read (or not read as I don't know if I have any readers besides my immediate family- thanks hubby, mom, and dad) is a way to challenge myself to be articulate and share the resources that strike me with inspiration.

Seek like minds: I'm going to be completely honest here.  A few weeks ago, I didn't even know what an RSS feed was, let alone how to search for and follow blogs with a resource like Google Reader.  *hangs head shamefully*  The experience of discovering like minded teachers, educators, and enthusiasts like myself, who want to share their resources, thoughts, and inspiration- this is an educational awakening.  Looking at the blog roll of a handful of my favorite blogs has led me to extraordinary people, and therefore Inspiring Collaboration and Enthusiasm in this Teacher.

Read voraciously:  I actually teach "read voraciously" as a fluency and expanding vocabulary strategy to my students.  But it is just as appropriate for teachers.  I find that when I am actively engaged in a book (preferably a good one), I have so many more ideas and feel mentally invigorated.  

Grow something:  Plants have always seemed like a good idea to me, but then something usually goes terribly wrong and they end up brown and crunchy as a result of my black thumb.  I have two houseplants that I've kept alive (my mother would say thanks to her tending when she comes to visit) for several years now.  Based on that minor success, last year I decided to plant a vegetable garden.  It was a first attempt and I had no idea what I was doing, but we were able to harvest several cucumbers, green beans, baby carrots, and lettuces.  But the broccoli plant never grew any broccoli and because of that, I kind of felt like a failure.
This year my garden is flourishing and we have fresh vegetables ready to pick for dinner.  And guess what?  The broccoli plant has sprouted broccoli.  Such a simple success (and so completely out of my control) yet fulfilling at the same time.  

Enjoy the journey:  Teachers love to quote the saying, "education is a journey, not a destination."  I've spent quite a few summers where my destination has been the first day of school.  Being a working mother, I sometimes feel like I am missing quite a bit.  So for me, this summer is a journey I intend on enjoying and relishing this time while my children are little.  

Wishing you growth and progress,

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