The other day, I noticed a new hashtag on the Twitterz: #eduoffseason. It seems to be about all the things we should all do in the “off season” so we can be better teachers come September. Ok. I’ll play. Here’s your off-season training plan, friends. This is the plan I intend to follow, to make myself a better, stronger, kinder, smarter, teacher and administrator in September. It’s pretty rigorous, and it is important that you fully commit to the program. If you cannot complete any of the assignments, I expect that you will substitute them with alternates that are of equal quality, quantity, and rigor. Items may be completed alone, or in collaboration with others. Collaboration with peers outside of the educational community is strongly encouraged. Your friends and family are permitted to help you with any of the assignments, as long as their participation will enhance (and not hinder) your own participation. After the first item, other tasks may be completed in the order of your choosing.
- On the first day that teachers are off but the rest of the world isn’t, go for breakfast/brunch with as many teacher friends as you can. Sit in the restaurant for as long as you want, talking and laughing. Have appetizers AND dessert AND coffee AND wine.
- Go to a zoo or wildlife park.
- Go to a matinée movie during the week when hardly anyone else is there, and eat a big bag of popcorn.
- Take a nap. Take several naps. Take several naps a day if you want.
- Go on a road trip, even if it is just a one-day jaunt to the next town over.
- Give yourself a quest to find the best SOMETHING in your area. Vanilla latte, chocolate milkshake, hamburger, crab cakes, whatever. Use this quest as a way to go places in your town that you have never been before.
- Stay in your pyjamas as long as you want. Do this as often as you want.
- Take a walk every day. Unless it is a pyjama day, then you don’t have to.
- Eat meals outside as often as you can.
- Plant something and watch it grow.
- Take at least a 3 day break from screen-based technology.
- Go to a parade.
- Go to a country/county/state/local fair/carnival/festival type event.
- Stay up all night because you can’t put down your book.
- Go out for a nice dinner on a weeknight.
- Watch fireworks at every opportunity.
- Go swimming outside, preferably NOT in a swimming pool. Let your hair dry in the sun.
- Buy lunch for a friend who has to work all summer, especially if that work involves wearing business wear when it’s 847 degrees.
- Pack an adventure bag with a water bottle, a snack, some band aids, a book, sunscreen, bug spray, and flip-flops, so you are always prepared to have an adventure, given the opportunity. Keep a towel and a hoodie in the car, for the same reason.
- If your school has a teacher dress code, put your work clothes away in the back of your closet and do not look at them.
- Spend an entire day with just ONE child, of the age group of your choice, and do whatever that child chooses, with no learning outcomes or objectives or assessments or checklists (Who wants to loan me a toddler?).
- On a rainy day, binge watch a TV show that you have been meaning to check out. (Mad Men. Or maybe Lost, all over again from the beginning…)
- Read exactly whatever catches your fancy. Read trash if you want because it is all your brain can handle (Hello, James Patterson, how nice to see you again…) . Read heavy literary fiction because your brain can’t handle it during school (Working my way through the Giller prize nominees). Read non-fiction about some obscure (this means NOT ABOUT EDUCATION) interest (Tudor England! Primate rescue! The social construction of childhood throughout history!).
There. You have 8 weeks to complete all the tasks. Or not. Document your progress, your process, and your product. Or don’t. Tweet, Facebook, Pin, and Instagram your results. Or keep them all to yourself.
It’s YOUR summer. Do what it takes to be a happier, healthier, kinder, stronger, smarter, HUMAN BEING by September, and I PROMISE that you will also be a better teacher.
Now, go find your pyjamas and get started.
(This post was inspired by a homework assignment I gave to a student a few years ago, so: go find a heart-shaped rock.)