Personal Development for Teachers: How to Make the Most of Your Time This Summer

10 Things that should be on your teacher to-do list this summer

Some Personal Development Time: How to Make the Most of Your Time This Summer!

Personal development activities for teachers

As teachers, we are natural list makers. There's no other group of people on this planet that are masters of to-do lists like teachers. I'm sure you already have a list, even if it's still in your head, for things you absolutely want to accomplish over the summer time. Before my last day this year, I had already scribbled a few things I wanted to get done this summer.
I'm sure we all have some of the same things...revise, update lesson/unit plans. organize & update my Google Drive, clean out and pack up my classroom, some PD reading. Besides these things that we do every summer without question, what else do you plan to do with your time this summer? It seems as if that time just flies by, doesn't it?
Here's where this post comes in handy. Whether you are looking for one, a few, or as many as ten things to add to your summer to-do/activity list, this post has all that covered. Use as many or as few of these ideas as you need.
Personal development activities for teachers
Summer is fleeting by already for those of us already on cruise control. I'm all about having a loose calendar during summer, but I also realize that I don't want to get to the end of it and realize that I could have used a bit of my time on some things more productive than just soaking up rays. I hope you find something below to make the best of your teacher summer time!

1.       Make Your Reading Lists
Every summer teachers spend a small fortune on books to read for professional development. It’s the perfect time to catch up on newly published books that no one has time for during the school year. So, this idea isn’t something new or something you probably aren’t doing already. However, this summer I’m suggesting some other options rather than spending a small fortune on those expensive PD best-sellers.
There are several ways that you can save some serious cash here. First, check with your local public libraries for any of the books that are on your list. Don’t forget to check local or nearby university libraries as well. Most will accommodate teachers’ requests. Especially if you are alumni. Another option is to ask your principal or central office to purchase the books to be placed in your school library for all teachers to read. Most of the time, you can at least get reimbursed for the cost of any PD books if you later place them in your library for others to use too. One last option to save money on your summer PD book list is to ask a group of coworkers to form a book club, sort of. Since you will be purchasing one book, the entire group can not function as a normal book club. Each member would instead get their turn with the book that your club members go in on to purchase. Depending on the number of coworkers participating, you could end up paying only a small fraction of the full price. Your group would have to work out a reading timetable and schedule, but it is doable and if it saves everyone involved some cash, why not give it a try?
One last suggestion for your summer reading list is to add at least one book to read this summer that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching. That’s right. Pick something you’ve been wanting to read or something outside of your favorite genre or something by that new fabulous author you’ve been dying to try. The point is to spend some time on at least one read that is enjoyable and for no other reason.

2.       Update Your Resume
Now that another school year is down, it’s time to update your resume with any new career information, experiences, and accomplishments. I know, that’s incredibly boring and this is summer, after all. But summer is the perfect time to update that old resume. In addition to adding any new or updated information, you might want to consider updating the design or look of your resume or update to a digital version full of links to your portfolio or professional documents and certificates. There are many resume services online that do just this and it is fairly priced. In today’s world of education, you never know what could change, including your position or location. Your resume needs to be as ready as you are when these opportunities pop up.

3.       Invest in Yourself
Do you know how to invest in yourself? Most of the time as teachers, we invest in others or try to convince our students that their education is an important investment in their future. And we’re right. Besides your professional reading, what are you doing to invest in yourself? My suggestion here is to not just see investing in yourself as pertaining to your job or career as a teacher, but the whole you as an individual. What hobby or skill have you always wanted to pursue but haven’t had the time? What better time for us to do this than summer? However you choose to spend your time, you are choosing to learn, build, experience, enrich, and invest in yourself. In the long run, it will pay off in many ways for both you and your role as a teacher.
Here’s a list of ideas to get your thinking started:
  • Cooking classes
  • Dancing lessons
  • Community College classes
  • Genealogy groups
  • Book clubs (check with your public library or start one yourself)
  • Music groups or lessons
  • Gardening clubs
4.       Add Moments & Memories
Our lives are full of random moments. It’s easy to feel like that hamster on the wheel just reliving every day in exactly the same ways. I know that often during the school year, I get that burned out feeling as if life is the same day over and over. I’ve found a way off that hamster wheel though. I intentionally choose time to make memorable moments. No, I didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn’t cure any disease. And I didn’t win the lottery. I’m not talking about once in a lifetime crazy good things that happen. I’m talking about the everyday moments that are special and worthwhile if we just take the time to reframe them and breathe them in. Summer is the perfect time for this.
All of my kids are pretty much adults. Well, they are all 18 years or over. Yay me! I see them often and they live within a few minutes of me. When they come over, I guess it’s an everyday moment really. But I always take the time to just look at all of them, remember their faces as babies, listen to their conversations and laughter, and that everyday moment is now a memorable moment. I guess it’s like the old adage - stop to smell the roses. I agree. Stopping every once in a while and make something an extraordinary memory on purpose has added so much joy to my life. Sometimes it only takes the simplest of things to add joy and purpose and slows down the rat race we run each day, especially during the school year. Take advantage of the downtime during summer. I like to see it as adding moments & memories. After all, that's what it really is.

5.       Take Care of Your Spaces
Your closet. Your desk. Your bathroom counter. Know what all three of these spaces have in common? They are routinely the most unorganized and cluttered spaces in any given home. But let’s not stop there. It’s 2019 after all. How about your Google Drive? Your email inbox? Your phone? At this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve created enough stress and dread that you can’t click off this page fast enough. It doesn’t have to be this way. Once again, summer when you are a teacher is the perfect time to address the hot messes in these areas or spaces.
First, let’s narrow down our focus here so no one passes out. Choose two physical spaces in your home and two virtual spaces that are most important for your use during the school year. We as teachers give our best to our students on the daily. We deserve to give ourselves the same thing. Living in clutter and chaos is not contributing to or giving yourself the best in life. And you can not give your best when you aren’t living it in your own life.

Here are a few pieces of advice for cleaning out and organizing your spaces.
  • Use containers to corral misc items. For example, use small plastic trays to organize your makeup items or drawer. Use baskets to collect and hide medicines, bottles, hair supplies. Recycle shoe boxes for holding drawer items such as socks, ties, undergarments.
  • If you haven’t touched, worn, or used an item in the past 2 months and it is not paperwork or a keepsake, throw it away or donate it. Make like Elsa and LET IT GO!
  • Create a file box with file folders inside for each account you have. File paperwork, receipts accordingly. Some file names might include car, electric, health insurance statements, taxes, bank statements, or birth certificates. Make the labels that YOU need in your life.
  • Put a basket by the door so that daily mail can be dropped there. Follow the rule of more than 3 days of mail is to be placed in the drop basket without opening and filing as needed. Period. Just. Do. It. Live by the rule of 3!

6.    Reward Yourself
Now that we have laid the Marie Kondo smack down on our unorganized spaces, it’s time for a little reward. Earlier in this list, you read about investing in yourself. This involved choosing an enriching activity to participate in this summer. If you truly enjoy that experience, then it kind of feels like a reward. But I think we can do better than that. For all that we do through the school year, this is our time to choose a meaningful treat that is, well, just that and nothing more.  No lesson, no personal development, no phenomenal revelation. Just a very deserved reward.
If you can afford a Disney Cruise - go for it! But if you’re like the rest of us, you can absolutely scale it down and find a perfectly amazing reward that you choose for yourself. A reward can be anything. From your favorite day spa to your favorite dessert, a reward is a reward. The key is you have to view whatever you choose and can afford, clearly declare it as your reward for all that you do. If summers are tight financially, and who am I kidding, we are teachers so of course summers are tight when it comes to money, you can choose something as small as your favorite candy bar. But it’s still a reward and too often we do not reward ourselves. Somehow it’s not the reward really, it’s the act of giving yourself something and the satisfaction that creates in our mind. Again, it’s the intention, recognition, and the significance of it. It will do at least until we all win the lottery and can take that Disney Cruise.

7.    Take On A Challenge
Taking on challenges isn’t something new to us as teachers. We do this every single day. Yet it is on this list as one of the most important things you can do this summer. This one could count as two since taking on a challenge is also one of many ways that you can invest in yourself. Taking on a challenge requires you to set a goal for something you want to achieve and then identify three specific actions you are going to take to achieve your stated goal. For example, if you are still a smoker, here’s your opportunity to set a goal for quitting or even just cutting down to the number of cigarettes you smoke in one day. It doesn’t have to be quitting. It can be a smaller goal as well. It is summer after all and we aren’t trying to kill ourselves here. So pick a goal that will challenge you but isn’t unattainable. Back to the smoking example, three specific actions you might identify include not smoking in your car, pacing your smoking so that you smoke no more than one every two get the idea. Here are some other ideas for challenging yourself:
  • Eating the recommended servings of fruit or veggie (or both!)
  • Cutting out soda
  • Cutting down on caffeine
  • Giving up fried foods
  • One hour of physical activity each day
  • Start a gratitude habit
  • Exercise challenge
  • Pinterest is a great place to find many ideas for challenging yourself. Remember that this is you setting a goal and three actionable behaviors to reach your goal. Simple but powerful.

8.    Volunteer
If you just can not take your teacher hat off this summer, then this one is for you because it involves you giving and helping others, which is what teachers are best at. Another way that you can continue to give to others even during the summer is volunteering. Whether it’s at a nursing home reading letters or books to residents or you finally step-up to work the concession stand for little Jimmy’s ball team, there are so many ways and places you can donate your time and effort for the greater good. You’ll also be setting a powerful example for your own children or family and your own students. You really can not go wrong here. Nor do you have to use your entire summer to make a difference in this world. As teachers, we natural help others and try to teach our students to do so too. Here’s your chance to show them.

9.    Do A Financial Check-up
At some point in your adulting experience, you will face your own financial situation. Balancing accounts, checking your paycheck, taxes, and, of course, b-i-l-l-s. Summer is a good time to stop and review your finances and money situation. No one looks forward to this, but if you keep ignoring your own finances or you don’t know what your situation is, you are asking for big trouble in the future. Not to mention the fact that you could be costing yourself big money. So here’s the list of items that you should check and make any changes necessary at this point in your life:
  • Checking account balances and charges (There are too many free accounts to still be paying account charges!)
  • Credit card balances - What’s your plan to pay these off? What is the interest rate on each of your cards? Can you transfer balances to a card with a lower interest rate?
  • Are there monthly bills that you can automate through your bank’s bill pay or set as recurring payment out of your account? This will allow you to depost the money needed for these bills in the appropriate account and forget about it. One less thing, right?!
  • Check your withholding tax. Has your number of exemptions changed? If not, you should still check this. Change to fewer exemptions if you want more taken out of your paycheck so that you don’t come out owing when tax time comes.
  • Figure your monthly debits/cash out and your deposits/cash in. Make sure you are in the black here. If not, see below….
  • If you are looking for some extra cash to save each month, look at all of your monthly bills. What can you cut and live without? Which ones are mandatory and you must keep? I think you’ll be surprised how much you’re probably paying each month for small things that you do not need and can live without. I certainly was. Search for things to cut until your monthly finances are in the black. For example, I was paying monthly fees for Spotify and Sirius Satellite radio in my car. Do I really need to pay for two music subscriptions??? Nope. And once a week or two passed, I didn’t even miss the one I canceled. Sometimes financial checkups require a reality check. Realize that whatever you are frivolously spending today, you won’t have later in life.

10.  Make A New Habit
You read about challenging yourself earlier in this post. Now, I’m going to ask you to actually plan to make a new habit. Yes, habits can be good. The problem is that many of us pick up or develop habits that are unhealthy or unproductive. Here’s your chance to choose a habit you’d like to develop. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be the type of person who makes the bed each morning before work. Maybe you really want to establish a morning routine with the kids. The point is for you to choose a positive and beneficial action so that by the time school starts again, it will be exactly that, a habit. Make sure that you pick something that will contribute to your life or your household. It needs to be something that works even during the school year. They say that if you do something every day for 4 weeks, it is considered a habit. If you start today, you have plenty of time to go pro before you’re back in session.

                    And there you have it. Some great choices and ideas to make the most of your summertime. Some of my summertime involves nothing at all. But I know that time always seems to fly by and I will wonder where it went when it's time to head back to my classroom. Because I'm planning out some of my summer time, I know that I will at least have some productivity to show for it. Enjoy your summer fellow teachers - we've earned this! 


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