Took long break! What lessons can you take from summer holidays?

Most teachers don’t spend six weeks on vacation. Planning for school takes up time and requires effort. The idea that as a teacher you get to chill out with your feet up is something that only those outside of the sector think. 

But there are things you can take from even your downtime. How do you make sure that your summer break is not only restful and rejuvenating, but gets you back to the classroom with gusto in the new school year.

The importance of relaxation

Hopefully you had time to relax, and that time has left you feeling full of energy and ready to seize the new school year. What about building in downtime or meditation into your class plans? It doesn’t always have to be go go go. In fact some time away from targets and tasks can be really helpful. It has been shown that short and regular breaks increase concentration and help memory and recall. And good mental health matters – 32% of 13- to 18-year-olds will experience an anxiety disorder according to the National Institute of Mental Health so it’s increasingly important to prioritise it in the classroom. 

Lessons from literature

Having time to read is a great bonus of the summer break. Did you read a good book that opened your mind to new ideas? Reading is a great way to expose us to new thoughts and opinions, as well as obviously important for increasing literacy attainment. Make sure your students are reading interesting and stimulating texts, and encourage them to read widely around a subject. Also think about how you can incorporate some of your new thinking into the classroom.

Keeping active

One of the great things about the summer break is time to be more active. One study found physical activity in the classroom boosts focus, attention, and academic attainment. Whether it’s some yoga stretches or 20 star jumps, see how you can kick classes off with a bang. Host a walk to school day if you can, encouraging a healthier and greener way to get to the classroom.

Outside your area

You probably got to do things you don’t always do in the routine of an average week. And that can be exciting. Maybe you’re an English teacher and visited a history museum, or teach PE and spent some time in nature. Sharing ideas and resources cross departmentally is a great way to develop practice, build new ideas, and improve learning outcomes. You might want to consider doing some project based activity that encourages them to think more broadly about the subject matter.

Explore your community

Whether it was the local library or a community cafe, you will have spent time in your area over the holidays. Make sure that your students also have the opportunity to do so, whether that’s through project based learning or volunteering. Encourage them to make connections with their community through school charity partnerships, a research assignment, or even trying a befriending scheme. It’s a really great way to have an impact beyond the classroom.

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