How to plan a summer

On Friday, I completed and submitted all grades for my students. My classroom is about 95% packed up and cleaned out. And I’m looking forward to a week’s worth of year-end school activities. Yay!


I’m also looking forward to this summer – a jam packed, fun-filled summer! But first, a bit of a reflection: After surviving my first year teaching, I spent that summer doing NOTHING. And it was GLORIOUS.

However, it was also very boring. I vowed to myself never to have a nothing-summer ever again, and since thing I’ve steadily increased the depth and breadth of my summer activities. Here’s a run down:

Summer 2011: The summer of nothing – which means I spent my days fully digitizing my curriculum binders. I think I explored the bay area a lot, and I hung out with friends and family of course. This was also the summer I stumbled upon my current church and small group.

2012: A series of 3-day professional developments, including a common core seminar, and an RTI seminar. Participated in the very beginnings of our essential standards work. Helped out at summer registration and math placement testing. San Diego missions with youth group.

2013: First AVID summer institute! More mentoring and essential standards work. Then a week teaching 6th graders how to take notes, stay organized, and opening a combination lock. Officially took over summer registration math placement testing. San Diego summer missions again.

2014: Summer interning at Lockheed Martin. So. Much. Driving. Earned lots of money, and learned that the cubicle life is not for me. The beginnings of house-hunting for house-buying. A very fun wedding party with some very fun people. First school staff retreat. Also church retreat.

2015: Summer in Hong Kong. Lots of swimming, shopping, eating, and digging for clams in the South China Sea. Lots of family time, and there may or may not have been an impressive Beyonce rendition at someone’s birthday karaoke.

2016: Tons of firsts! First summer teaching college and career pathways camp. First Toastmasters experience. First time going wine tasting. First AIDS walk. First subscription to Amazon Prime. First symphony night. First escape room play day. My rabbit 王彩 died. A bunch of bridesmaid duties. Another AVID summer institute.

Most of my summers include some sort of work. It’s so hard for me to NOT work, or at least not spend some time working. Which is where I’ll start the how-to part of this post.

How to plan a summer

1. Gather a list of events you would like to do. Professional developments? County fairs? Travel? I keep an eye out on professional development opportunities during the last few months of the school year – and I try to only go to the ones where my school will foot the bill, or the free ones. Keep a list of any associated dates and costs.

2. Include variety. Looking at my list above on my previous summers, you can probably tell that for the most part I either spend all of it working, or all of it playing. Last summer was the best balance I had so far of both work and fun. I wouldn’t lean more towards one or the other.

3. Pencil in the dates, and prioritize. Super important to keep track of what happens when. If some events overlap others, then it’s time to decide which one you prefer more. I like to also keep some gaps in my schedule to ensure downtime gets in amongst weekend after week of being on the road or going to events.

4. Keep in touch. Once school is out and summer starts, not a lot of your colleagues will look at their emails that regularly. Get phone numbers of certain key people and make sure send them a message every so often. Share your travel plans with people. Chatting it out with someone can make the event that much more enjoyable.

5. Leave room for spontaneity. As the Little Prince says, and over-scheduled life is no fun. Leaving space for the freedom of changing plans is one of the most luxurious things I can do for myself. Life is already dictated by bells during the school year. Don’t let your summer be the same. Usually, I like to have at least three days of no-plan days in between each summer activity: 1 day to decompress, do laundry/cleaning, and enjoy hermit mode a bit (I’m an introvert), 1 day to do random, spur-of-the-moment things like go on a drive along the coast (not during rush hour!), drop by that new boba place while running errands, or have a good long FaceTime session with my bff. The third day is to gear up and prepare for the next event.

6. Keep an eye on financial matters. The summer I went to Hong Kong was probably the hardest one to estimate costs for. Luckily, my family has a home there, and once the plane ticket was purchased, nearly all my remaining budget could be for fun stuff. Spend money on experiences rather than on things. Although, the things were fun too, I did resist the urge blow all my money at Muji. I think the largest single transaction I had during my trip was treating 12 family members to dinner in Macau.

What are your teacher tips for productive and relaxing summers? Leave a comment below!


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