It’s finally summer! All the kids piled on the buses and waived goodbye. We blew bubbles, gave hugs, and said, “Have a great summer!” We packed up our now quiet classrooms (or closets) and drove off into the sunset. Finally! But what will we do with all this “free” time that always seems to fly by? Here are 5 ways that SLPs and other educators can make the most of their summer.
There’s a difference, I think, between just relaxing and deliberate self-care. Self-care is more like knowing what we need to refuel us and lower our anxiety. It’s more than just taking a nap or relaxing at the beach – which those can very well be a part of it. Self-care can include things like exercising, baking, reading your Bible, journaling, or spending time with your friends and family. Even saying “no” to things can be essential. Make a list of things you are “not” going to do like: no checking my phone during meals, or no going to Walmart on Saturdays (this one stresses me out! lol). Summer is the perfect time to start good habits and routines that you can carry with you into the next school year.
2. Professional development
During the school year, it’s not always easy to take the time for professional development. We might squeeze in a podcast or 2 here and there, attend a workshop provided by our employer, or get real ambitious and read some research when we need it. Friend, the internet has made it so unbelievable easy to get better at our jobs! Aside from great PD sites like speechpathology.com or speechtherapyPD.com, you can check out several different podcasts for SLPs or teachers, join The Informed SLP website, or even read well-researched blog posts by other SLP bloggers who are knee deep in the field just like you. You can even grab a book or 2 on a topic you’ve been wanting to know more about (audiobooks are my thing lately).
3. Unplug and disconnect
Do it. Seriously. It will change your life and clear the clutter in your mind. Take a break from social media for a week or month. Put down your phone for a day. Go completely screen free for a week. Studies have shown that unplugging improves quality of life, helps you sleep better, and even improves interpersonal communications. It’s definitely a hard habit to break, but summer is a good time to give it a try.
4. Reflect on last year
Now that you are home and away from school, it’s easier to think about how your year went last year. What worked really well? What could you change? Think about your students. Are there any severe cases or diagnoses that you need to research? Maybe you want to implement some new programs and need to prep the materials. Summer is a great time for that. How do you like the planning and organization system that you used last year? I always take the summer to put my new planner together for next year. I look at which pages I used and which I didn’t use so much. Then, I print only what I need or change the format if I need to. How did you like the way you took data last year? I’m always looking for a better way to take data. Currently, I’m doing all my tallies on the computer!
5. Get a game plan for next year
After thinking through all the pitfalls and successes from last year, get a good game plan for what you’ll do next year. I think about how I’m going to take baseline data in the beginning and monitor progress throughout the year. I make sure my speech room is organized in the most efficient way I can possible make it. I decide on what reward system I’ll use with my students and how I’m going to keep my paperwork together. It’s little logistics like this that can really make a your year start off right if you have them all thought out.
Summer break flies by, friend. Let’s make the most of our time so that our future SLP-selves will thank us later!