Ah, summer… lazy mornings, time with my own kids and fur babies, and a chance to get to do whatever I want—which is catch up on my life since I get SO behind during the school year. Sounds like a dream, right? As the new school year approaches, shouldn’t teachers feel rested, hopeful, and excited to begin anew? After all, we get three months out of the year to do whatever we want, right?

Not necessarily.

This is the first summer I’ve only had one week of an “official” professional development opportunity. It was great, and it got me thinking about how I may differently tackle my classes for the year. In years past, I have spent over a month of my “time off” in professional development—as I grow wiser, I understand the danger of burn-out and the need to recharge even more, so I’m more comfortable saying no. Now I try to direct my attention to development that will most benefit my kids and my practice.

Back to my week of PD… The week away was a nice break from my summer to-do list, but it’s not the only development I’ve done this summer. Like most teachers, I spend much summer time catching up on reading and writing—both for personal and professional reasons—and it never fails that something I think I’m doing for myself will apply to my students. BAM! Just like that my quiet summer reverie jolts me back to the reality of the classroom… but I’m a nerd, and I love my job. It’s only natural that my teacher brain doesn’t have an “off” button… Oh, if it did, how amazing would my time away from school be?

Back to the topic at hand… summer is nearly over. All over the nation, teachers are returning to their freshly cleaned, though perhaps disheveled classrooms, to push desks around, rearrange books, write and rewrite and rewrite lessons plans, and start the year with fingers crossed for bright-eyed students, supportive administrators, and powerful lessons both in and out of the classroom.

One of the beautiful things about teaching is the opportunity to begin fresh: a new day, a new student, a new lesson, a new school year. While it may be hard to go back to 5 a.m. alarms, piles of papers to grade, and grumbles from students about grammar exercises, most teachers I know are truly excited for the new beginning the year provides. The bounds are limitless.

Don’t get it twisted… it’s still hard to be going back.

First of all, my summer to-do list isn’t even half done. Carpets still need cleaned, closets reorganized, cabinets cleaned, and flowerbeds replanted; however, I’ve had opportunities this summer as well: Opportunities to reflect and relax, to adventure with my own children, and to center myself.

Secondly, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have anxiety about going back to school. The last few years have been much more difficult than I’d hoped. The facts remain: the kids continue to amaze me, and the adults in the building continue to make me shake my head. I don’t expect to walk in this year and have the toxicity of the last few years completely vanish, and I won’t pretend that every adult in the building has the best interests of students in mind over their own interests. However, I can proceed with a clear direction of where I am heading and a firm grasp on what my goal for the year is.

Yes, I had the summer off. No, you don’t need to remind me about how quickly it went. Just smile, say good luck, and be supportive.

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