It’s time to pack it in for the summer. Get those decorations (that are now looking a little worse for wear) off the walls, empty your seventy-five pound briefcase (or wheely backpack if you’ve embraced that look), and take a deep breath. Once you’ve given yourself some time to shake off the absolute weight of this year, it’s time for some wellness! What we have here is your 6-week Summer Fun Syllabus. We take it very seriously, and you will be graded.
WEEK ONE: FIRE. YOUR. ALARM CLOCK. (10% of total grade)
We are officially giving you permission to take your alarm clock (provided you’re not using a very expensive phone) to a rage room and take a swing at it with a golf club. Like a scene straight out of Office Space, we fully expect you to throw on some music with heavy bass and just go nuts.
Studies show that sleep plays a critical role in waking cognition, emotional regulation, and other important parts of being a functioning human, so consider it your homework to stock up on sleep over the next several weeks to prepare for the fall. Try your very hardest to avoid doomsday social media scrolling before turning out the lights – we all know too much blue light messes with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Now it’s time to break those bad habits. If there is one thing you can do for yourself and your students now to prepare for what’s to come, it’s to get rested and re-centered.
WEEK TWO: FILL YOUR BUCKET. (25% of total grade)
Many of us are currently in a state of languish, according to organizational psychologist Adam Grant, which can feel like indifference, burn out, or depression. To combat these feelings, Grant suggests we seek flow – getting absorbed in a challenge or feeling a momentary bond to an activity or effort. Spending time doing something that gives you that feeling of flow every day can help you achieve small wins and avoid the empty bucket.
By this, we mean go engage in things with friends and family. Go play trivia, go axe throwing, hike, or host an end of the year party. If you need a break from kids, make it happen. Now that the last vestiges of the pandemic are petering out, it’s time to re-enter society and find out what you like again!
WEEK THREE: TRY SOMETHING NEW. (15% of total grade)
Learning a new skill can also make your mind grow stronger. Whether it’s learning a new language, tackling the Appalachian trail, or speed-dating in another town wearing a fake mustache, do something that gets you out of your comfort zone and experience something new. We recommend trying something completely out of the box and unrelated to your day-to-day school life for maximum impact. Consider it immersion therapy. You never know, you may just find a renewed growth mindset will reignite that passion for education that sometimes feels like a dim flicker.
WEEK FOUR: MAKE IT ABOUT YOU. (20% of total grade)
This year has been all about catering to new systems and health mandates while simultaneously herding faculty, students, and parents. Then add on managing the different personality dynamics involved. It hasn’t been about YOU in a while. It’s time!
Sometimes we have to be reminded that taking a break or spending time on yourself is an important part of being effective – our bodies need downtime. It could be something as small as a mani/pedi at a local spa, or booking an inclusive vacation to Jamaica and get the full treatment there. Or try mindfulness and meditation if you haven’t before. Developing the tools to de-stress will serve you well AND can also have positive impacts on your students’ outcomes as well. Whatever you do, try building the muscle memory to relax now with an eye toward bringing those practices into the school year.
WEEK FIVE: GET ACTIVE (20% of total grade)
Speaking of muscle memory, exercise is an excellent way to refuel. Even a 30 minute fast walk outside during lunch can help you release serotonin which is a hormone that lifts mood. Exercise helps boost the impact of everything you’ve been working on in this syllabus so far – better sleep, less anxiety, more flow. In the long-term, physical activity can give you more balance and improve your bone health – haven’t you always wanted to master the yoga head stand?
WEEK SIX: FINAL EXAM (10% of total grade)
Now that you’ve had some fun and developed your own wellness habits at the same time, it’s time to bring a friend along for the ride. Share your wins with others and offer to be an accountability buddy. Doing this with someone else boosts both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation beyond the fun you’ve had this summer – and it builds your own ability to collaborate (in case you don’t know, that’s ABC’s favorite topic). Just don’t be too convincing or they might ask you to head up the wellness program at your school next year!
Whatever it is that you do to relax and reconnect with yourself, with your peers–now is the time. The Fall semester is rapidly approaching, so toss that alarm clock out of a window, link up with your “besties”, lose yourself, and then…find yourself. Happy Summer, educators! You really earned this one.