See, during the school year we teachers find our evenings and weekends overwhelmed with the need-to-do-right-nows - grading essays, writing IEPs, planning lessons, answering parent emails, etc. During the school year, the big projects hang on the back burner (and pile up), waiting for their time. This summer my project to-do list includes: setting up a co-taught reading/writing workshop classroom, revamping my resource with the 6th and 8th grade resource teachers, converting Social Studies articles to ePubs, creating a new life skills math curriculum, and researching apps to better utilize my iPad. This, of course, does not include the long list of professional books I want to read (I will get to Readicide one day), the normal prep for next year (review caseload, evaluate IEP goals, etc.), and the part-time job I’m working. And don’t forget there’s all the non-school related things I would like to do (actually read a book for fun, clean the house,...I’ve already resigned myself to not seeing the beach yet again this summer).
And this forces me to confront the main cause of my stress - I will not become the perfect teacher over the summer. Throughout the year, as I learn new things and reflect on my own teaching, I brainstorm all the ways I want to make my classroom better for the next year. (For example, I recently read The Book Whisperer, and all of sudden 80 ideas for how I was going to improve my LA class got on the to-do list. I’m an impatient perfectionist, and I easily forget that the teachers I read and admire have been teaching for years. However, it still flabbergasts me that there could be something better I could be doing that I will not get to do. What about my students - I want to give them the best education possible.
I refuse to believe I’m alone in this. I know there are tons of other teachers out there trying to be the best - and getting overwhelmed and/or burnt out in the process. It’s the advantage and curse of a good teacher - always striving for perfection. It makes us great and can be our downfall. So, this summer, I’m going to try to picture what my life will be come October. When that makes my insides churn, I’m going to remind myself that this is the time to relax... (Wish me luck...).