“Summertime! And the living is easy!”
Those words from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess really sum up summer break for me. Summer is a time for teachers to recharge and spend time with family and friends they may not have seen during the school year.
Barbecues, days at the zoo, traveling… But there’s always that little voice in the back of my mind saying “You should be getting ready…” That voice may be louder or quieter for you, but it’s right: We should remember that summer won’t last forever! Here are some things you can do to prepare for the upcoming school year.
1. Reflect on what worked this past year
Think back on the year you just had. Were there lessons that really worked? Work those into your plan! On the flip side, were there some lessons you don’t even want to think about ever again?
Maybe figure out a way to tweak those lessons to make them work! (Or just replace them altogether and never mention it again. No judgement here!) Reflecting on what worked and what didn’t will give you a good foundation for a new school year plan.
2. Obtain class lists once they become available
This will help you know who you will be working with! At my school, we have what we consider “revolving door” admission. Students come to my school because they need extra support for their learning differences, and sometimes those students don’t return the following year because they have the tools and strategies needed to thrive in their home district!
For me, the class lists are super important so I can figure out how much time I need to spend on reviewing topics at the beginning of the year.
3. Read, read, read!
Every teacher account I follow on social media has been posting about the different books they finally have time to read. There are so many good suggestions out there, covering all sorts of topics. If you’re anything like me, summer is the time to catch up on any reading you didn’t have time to do during the school year.
And this doesn’t just mean professional development reading, either. I also mean you should read for fun! Read what your students are interested in. Read what inspires you! If you feel inspired, imagine how your students will feel when you bring that inspiration to the classroom.
4. Engage in discussions with other music teachers
During the school year, it can feel overwhelming to try to reach out to other teachers, especially if they’re not in your district (or even your state!). Summer is the perfect time to join music teacher groups and start networking and gathering ideas.
Did you know there’s a group for That Music Teacher? There is! Join the General Music Mastermind group on Facebook! I have joined a handful of music teacher groups this summer, and I already feel so much more supported and energized for the upcoming school year!
5. Go through your inventory
Is there a part of your room that you look at and think “I need to organize that at some point,” but you never seem to have time? If your school allows it, see if you can go into your room and do some organizing!
Take note of things that need cleaned or repaired, get rid of things that you never use, and allow yourself to start the year out with a clean slate and a clear head.
6. If possible, participate in some professional development
Unfortunately for me, my professional development plans to obtain my Kodály Level 1 certification this summer were thwarted due to COVID-19. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t keep learning!
Many teachers and organizations offer free webinars during the summer for all varieties of teaching situations. Even with my unique school situation, I have been able to find so many incredibly valuable webinars to help me better support my students.
7. Self care!
All of these points mean nothing if you end up burning yourself out. Yes, it is important to keep up on your skills and have at least an outline of a plan by the time August comes around, but you can’t be a truly great teacher unless you take care of yourself.
Spend time with your family, read for pleasure, take up a hobby, do what makes you happy! School will be there when you’re ready to tackle it.
I hope these seven items help you feel a little more prepared to tackle the upcoming school year with joy and energy. Your students are definitely spending their time recharging and relaxing, and you deserve the same!
Psst... Did you know there’s also one more thing you can do over summer break? You can take part in General Music Jumpstart! GMJ is a 6-week online course for elementary music teachers who are tired of feeling overwhelmed and want to be able to focus on what really matters.
This article was submitted by Rachel Ammons, contributing author for ThatMusicTeacher.com. Interested in becoming a contributing author? Email resume and writing sample to firstname.lastname@example.org.