Staying Motivated During Long School Breaks
So many people are often jealous of teachers because we get to enjoy long breaks between semesters. However, few people realize how much work teachers actually do during the break.
In America, it’s normal to have nearly three months at home in the summer and a couple of weeks off in the winter. In my case, my “official” job is as a college instructor in China, I get a little over two months off in the summer and just under two months off in the winter.
As all the teachers know, sometimes we just want to spend all our break time on fun and family and catching up on those things that we didn’t have time for during the school year. It’s important to stay focused though, because those lessons aren’t going to magically plan themselves, right?
To make the most of the break times and stay productive while still getting some down time, here are a few tips to keep in mind during the downtime.
1. Continue setting daily and weekly goals
One of the first things that seems to happen when I go on break is that I almost immediately want to slack off on goal setting. Unless I’m teaching at a camp or doing consulting work, I have absolutely nothing that I’m required to do.
Isn’t it glorious? Just thinking about knowing that I have nothing due tomorrow feels great. That’s when laziness sneaks in, though. So, I have to be very conscious to keep setting goals.
2. Be at least a little productive daily
If I do a little bit of lesson planning and making new materials every day, then I can stay productive and ahead of schedule while still having plenty of time for fun, family, and relaxation.
If I fail to keep working a little bit each day, I’ll end up stressed and cranky at the end of the break while trying to finish all the prep work at the last minute.
3. Keep up with healthy habits
If you’re into working out or meal prepping or other habits that help you stay healthy, don’t slack off! It can be so tempting to take some time off from those as well, especially at the beginning.
Sometimes though, once you start to take a break, it seems harder to get back into your healthy routines later. So, be sure to take care of yourself and keep up with those great habits!
4. Don’t mess up your sleep schedule
Don’t we all do this? Break time comes and we start staying up late because we know we don’t have work in the morning. We all know we shouldn’t, but there’s that great TV show we want to catch up on or that book we finally have time to read or games we want to play.
Within just a few days, we’ve completely wrecked our normal sleep schedule and if we allow it to continue, the first week back to school is horrible. So, don’t mess it up in the first place. That book or game or TV show will still be there in the morning.
5. Relax and have fun!
I know I sound like such a party pooper with some of my tips. Don’t stay up late, keep exercising, be productive and set goals, but there’s good news! You get to recharge your mental and physical batteries too!
Relaxing and doing fun things—in moderation of course—is a great way (and arguably the most important way) to get ready to head back to school. All work and no play makes for a grouchy teacher.
So, by all means, relax and enjoy your holiday! Just don’t let that be the only thing you do.
6. Use the time to set future goals and think about where you want to be in life
Breaks are a great time to take inventory and reevaluate. Some of the biggest life changes I’ve started (getting out of debt, starting a business, setting up the Little River website, designing and uploading tons of new resources, writing book, etc.) has come as a result of the downtime I’m getting during a holiday or long break. All of these ideas bounce around in my head throughout the school year but often get pushed aside by more immediate issues.
I’m especially lucky that since I travel so much for work during the summer and winter breaks, I have a lot of time all alone in a hotel room. It can be lonely, but it can also be super productive because all the (admittedly fun) distractions from family and hobbies are gone. It’s just me and my computer there. So the ideas flow so much more quickly and easily.
Breaks are all about balance. All work and no play isn’t good, but neither is all play. Keep up with the good things and block out the noise and stress from the school year. Use the breaks for what they are: breaks from the awesome chaos of being in a classroom all the time.
I’d love to hear from y’all. What are some of your favorite ways to relax or to be productive during your breaks? How do you keep up with the important things while still having a great time? Comment on this post or shoot me an email.
And as always, if there’s anything you’d love to get some advice on, let me know.