As summer break quickly approaches, I want to maximize the time I have to get the most done. Laura Vanderkam, in her novel on time management 168 Hours, emphasizes that a small amount time planning your “free” time can make a big difference in accomplishing everything you want. This is even more important for me this summer, because I have two young children to take care of, so my free time is going to be limited. In order to have the most successful summer possible, I’ve organized my “to-do” list into overarching themes, and then into concrete goals:
1. Choose 2-4 passion projects for the summer.
In Daniel Pink’s Drive, he talks about the element of autonomy in being important for intrinsic motivation. People need to have the ability to work towards things that are important to them as individuals. He references the 20% time at Google, where 20% of employees’ time can be spent on their own personal pet projects. For teachers, this “20% time” comes in the summer. During the school year we are lesson planning, grading, making parent phone calls, attending meetings and professional development events, and everything else under the sun that gets thrown at us. These 8 weeks of summer are a chance for us to dedicate some time to other passions of ours.
My goals are:
- To finish the book Mindset, discuss with some of my fellow math teachers how we want to incorporate these ideas into our teaching, and plan a PD along with a rough outline of how we can use growth mindset to support Math Practice Standard 1 (persevere and problem solve). - AUGUST: HALF DONE. DID NOT GET TO DISCUSS WITH OTHER MATH TEACHERS.
- To revamp the first unit in the 7th grade curriculum. AUGUST: NOT DONE
- To outline the rules and procedures that all math teachers will have in common so that we can align our practices during our institute days. AUGUST: DISCARDED DUE TO DISTRICT MANDATES.
- To learn more about improving PLCs through action-oriented agendas and put together a plan for improving math department meetings next year. AUGUST: DONE!
2. Pick a novel to read for fun
Reading is fun and relaxing, but I often find my “to-read” list gets filled up with work-related titles too quickly. It is important to carve out of time to read just for pleasure. This helps you relax and take your mind off the stressors of work and home. My goal is to read at least one fiction novel just for fun.
- To read The White Queen by Philippa Gregory AUGUST: DONE! (AND RECOMMENDED)
3. Set an athletic goal
During the year, it is easy to get “too busy” to work out. In the summer, the weather is good and time is on our side. This is the time to put the effort into your health - it will serve you well when the school year starts again in August. However, it is too easy to get into the relaxed mode and put off working out for various other reasons. If you set an athletic goal, it keeps you motivated and accountable for working out. The goal can be anything from “walking the neighborhood every day” to “swimming 10 laps in the pool 3 times a week”. The point is to make it concrete and measurable, so you can hold yourself accountable. (Bonus: Reward yourself when you meet your goal. I enjoy a weekly coffee or a trip to Dairy Queen).
- To work out 4 days a week, and to increase my long run distance to 8 miles. AUGUST: HALF DONE, HIP FLEXOR INJURY, ONLY BACK UP TO 5 MILES.
4. Plan something fun for yourself
Summer goes by fast, and there is plenty to keep you busy. Make sure to plan something fun and special for yourself (or you and your spouse, or you and your family). Often just the excitement of the anticipation of something fun is worth the planning and the cost. Take a vacation, even if just for a weekend, or attend a special sporting event, concert, etc. We need things to look forward to in our days, and we need those special memories that we can hang on to when the school year starts to wear on us.
- Enjoy a couple’s weekend in North Carolina with my girlfriends and their spouses. AUGUST: DONE AND AWESOME!
With that, I wish everyone that reads this a happy summer break!!!!!