Setting Professional Goals During Summer Break

If a day ever comes where I stop learning, it will be a sad day indeed. Like any good teacher, I believe in the revolutionary power of education, and I know that learning drives progress. But how do we continue to set professional goals during summer break and battle teacher burnout?

If any of you are like me, the first two weeks of break involved as little intellectual stimulation as possible. Pleasure reading, playing with my daughter, online shopping, and countless episodes of Call the Midwife have dominated my summer so far. But, as inevitably happens, as we near the midway point of week 3, I find myself needing to be productive.

We all know that professional development is important. And for many of us, it’s mandatory, so whether you like it or not, sister you’re learning something new (or brother… we don’t discriminate here!) But my introductory exposure to PD has led me to see that the options for approved professional development don’t always align with what we want to learn. Rather, we must try to find a course that has something we can grasp onto that might align with next year’s goals. Or, if we do find something that perfectly aligns, it may conflict with other obligations, which means we have to bypass it.

Summer is a time for catching up on your Next List or traveling or chasing after kids, etc. It’s also really easy to waste all of those weeks doing nothing productive, then looking up with the new year looming just a few days away and realizing you are in no way prepared. So how do we battle this? Here are some tips and tricks to help make sure you stay on track this summer.

Make a List

The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want next year to look like. Are there new strategies you want to try? New classroom norms you want to implement? Do you need to create a Donors Choose for something your classroom desperately needs? Making lists is such an easy place to start. And, the great thing is that a list will give you some direction when you find yourself floundering in all of that newfound free time.

Set a Schedule

Now that you have that list, you need to put it to use. Which means setting a schedule. If it’s a Donors Choose, you know you need to have that created ASAP or it won’t be funded in time. If it’s something that requires research, you can set reading goals and determine a finish date. Either way, setting a schedule will help prevent that dreaded monster we fight with our students all year–procrastination.

Read the Books

If there’s something new you’re thinking of trying (and if you haven’t tried anything new in a while, then it’s time to revamp!) then seeking out the expertise of those who have gone before is never a bad idea. Ask your PLN for book recommendations (maybe that PLN includes us. And if it does, we are always glad to offer up what we’re reading/studying). Peruse your shelves for books that maybe you’ve read, but you could revisit for new strategies. Maybe you have books that you’ve been dying to read but just haven’t had the time. Or maybe your Audible que if full of the recommendations you’ve been stockpiling throughout the year. Whatever it may be, there is no better time than summer for reading. So. Read the books. Learn the things.

Pre-plan

I don’t know about you all, but I am very stingy with my personal time. Having to pick my daughter up at daycare insures that I leave work by 4 every day, and once I’m home, I try to be home. Which means I need to make the most of the hours I have at school.

This also means that if I use my summer wisely, I can better prioritize my time during the year.

Obviously, I can’t plan my whole year to a T (read my Back to Basics post for the importance of adaptability), but I can produce an outline of what I want to cover when (ex–180 days by Kittle and Gallagher). I can roughly decide how I want to approach concepts. I can brainstorm and develop creative, engaging activities that will (hopefully) get my students excited about learning.

By putting in the work now, I’m saving precious time later, so that school doesn’t dominate my life when I’m not there.

Summer should not be dominated by work. With the time and energy educators put in during the school year, you’ve earned this break. And, realistically, for many of you this is a time of second jobs (or third jobs) so you really don’t get much of a break at all. So I’m not saying you should dive all in and monopolize time that should be spent with family or on self care.

I do think, however, that by being proactive, we can set ourselves up for a little less stress later. I hope the tips listed above help, and if you have anything that specifically works for you, please share below.

So set those Professional Goals. But remember to take care of yourself too! Happy summer.

–Chéylyn

Yes, I am a Feminist

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be offensive, nor is it written with the intent to marginalize or stereotype. It is simply one woman’s thoughts on equality, and an effort to challenge misinformation. My intention is to unite, not to divide.

Writing this post is terrifying, for so many reasons. I worry it will offend. I worry it will alienate. I worry my words will not fully convey how passionate I am about the search for equality. But, I feel it is an important conversation. And so, I am doing something I have told others to do in the past. And that is to use my voice, not matter how scary that may be, to highlight an important issue.

Feminist.

To many people, it’s a dirty word. It’s synonymous with man-hating, with extremism, with frightening females storming cities in offensive headwear.

And my question is why? Why has a term that, for many, has its basis in equality for all become a word that is not only feared, but despised?

I think that, perhaps, this all stems from one simple (yet so complex) reason–misunderstanding. So I am here to try to add my voice to those seeking to be understood.

I am a feminist.

I am also:

  • A wife– to a man. And when I say man, I mean alpha male.
  • A former stay-at-home mom
  • Employed in a traditionally predominantly female profession
  • Someone who likes shopping–a little too much sometimes.
  • Obsessed with my hair. Someone who wears make-up…likes getting her nails done…wears a bra and the occasional dress–someone who likes to feel pretty.

I am not:

  • A man-hater.
  • A political extremist.
  • Someone who believes feminism only applies to middle class, white women.
  • Okay with the shaming of other women (or men, or the undecided, for that matter).
  • Oblivious to the absurd expectations that exist for men.

None of these things makes me anything more or less than my ideology. Because what my ideology is centered on is choice and equality.

An important distinction I believe should be made is one I came across in a Forbes article on feminism. And that is the distinction between equal and same. I know that men and women are different. I am not advocating for a movement that says we should be the same, because simply due to our biology, we are not. What I am advocating for is a movement that provides equal opportunities for people no matter their gender, skin color, sexual preference, etc. I don’t want to be thought of as “less-than”, and I don’t want to be sexualized just because of who I am. I do want to be valued based on my intellect, my creativity, my work. I want to be given the chance to prove to you what I can and can’t do based on my own personal strengths and weaknesses.

Feminist is not just a social political label for me. It is a part of who I am, as a woman, as a human being. I have functioned beneath the title of “Mommy’s little feminist” for as long as I can remember. I believe in the equality of human beings. I believe in raising a strong, independent daughter, despite functioning within a society that continues, for some reason, to fear strong, independent women.

Yes. I am a feminist. And I hope, after reading this, you understand why.

Cheylyn

On Being a Working Mom…

One of the things I’ve struggled with most in regards to teaching is the time I’m giving up with my daughter… those moments spent at work, rather than with her, that I can never get back. It hits me especially hard on days like today, when I have to walk away with her crying and calling my name behind me. Of feeling her fingers clutching my sweater while I explain I have to go, working her tiny fist free of my clothes so that I can flee before she grasps me again.

I was a stay at home mom for two and a half years. I saw all of J’s firsts, and was able to build a bond with her that is truly incredible. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

But, there’s something people don’t tell you about being a stay at home mom. Everyone always glorifies it, or blows it off, but no one really talks about the things I experienced. So I’m just going to say it… being a stay at home mom was hard.

My own mother raised me to be financially and emotionally independent. And perhaps because of that, perhaps because I’m not a naturally maternal person, I really struggled being home full time. My husband would comment that he missed the old me, that I wasn’t happy anymore. My mood was constantly up and down. I felt unfulfilled intellectually, and I hated not being able to contribute to our financial well-being. I tried applying for remote work, but didn’t have much work experience and so I received a record number of rejections. Outside of making sure my daughter was taken care of– intellectually, emotionally, physically– I was lost. But I didn’t want to put her in daycare. I didn’t trust anyone, often not even myself, so how could I trust strangers with her care and safety?

There are many things that contributed to my going back to work, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say that a lot of things in my life shifted, and it suddenly seemed like the right time.

Going back to work has had a lot of advantages. I feel like I’m in a better place, mentally. I’ve helped relieve some of the stress on my husband now that he isn’t the sole breadwinner in our family. And overall, I feel like my little family has settled into a nice stride.

But man, oh man, the guilt. I wonder every day if I’m doing the right thing by forfeiting this time with J. Especially on those days when she tells me she wants things to go back to how they were before. Those days when her cries follow me out the door as I leave for work. Those days when I’m out of school for whatever reason and I get a taste of how it used to be.

I say all of this, not to complain, but to be real. One of the things I’ve noticed in life is that people rarely give the good and the bad. It’s often one or the other. I know there are moms out there who live a similar struggle, and I write this so that you know you are not alone. There is a tribe of women working through the same difficulties. You’re not a bad mom for not staying home with your child, whether you left the home because you wanted to or because you had to. Searching for fulfillment outside of your child doesn’t make you a less-than mother. Admitting that it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine doesn’t mean you aren’t a rock star.

It all just means you’re human.

–Cheylyn