How to Recharge During Summer Break: Tips for Special Education Teachers

Have you seen that new viral video, “Welcome to Maycemeber”, from the Holderness Family? Parents lament the overwhelming craziness of May in this super funny parody of Earth, Wind, & Fire’s “Septemeber.” Seriously, go watch it (just after you read this blog.)

Let's be real, special education teachers, “Maycember” isn’t just for parents. The end of the year can be a whirlwind of testing, behavior challenges, and loose ends. But take a deep breath! Summer break is either already happening for you or you’re in the final countdown until school’s out. So get ready for the chance to recharge, reflect, and come back next year ready to conquer the classroom.

The Importance of Summer Break

Summer isn't just a break; it's like hitting the reset button after a marathon. We juggle diverse learning needs, tailor and follow IEPs like it's our second language, and navigate the ever-shifting landscape of standards and curriculums. It's a demanding job, and those summer breaks aren't a luxury – they're like hitting the reset button after a marathon.

So, this summer, ditch the guilt trip and take some well-deserved me-time. Seriously, you've earned it! Whether you're diving into a juicy novel, hitting the trails for a nature hike, or just basking in the glorious sunshine, do what makes your heart happy. Come back to the new school year with your bucket overflowing, ready to make an even bigger impact on your students' lives.

Strategy 1: Reflecting on the Past School Year

Reflecting on the past school year is key to continuous growth and improvement. Think about what went well and what didn’t, specifically regarding administration, co-teachers, parents, students, schedules, and lesson planning. Grab a journal or just talk it out with yourself. Reflect on the challenges and successes with each group and area. Reflection helps us recognize our successes and pinpoint areas for improvement. For guided reflection, check out the Special Education Teacher Reflection & Goal-Setting Toolkit. It’s designed to help you assess your strengths, identify areas for improvement, and set meaningful, achievable goals, ensuring your reflections lead to real growth and positive changes in your teaching practices.

Strategy 2: Maximizing Relaxation

When I was a kid, summer meant a boot box full of learning activities from my mom—math workbooks, art projects, and more. It wasn’t just busy work; it was my version of relaxation. Now, as an empty nester, my summers are pretty relaxing too. I spend time creating new products for teachers, sitting outside with my dog, attending Little League games, and boating with friends.

Forget the guilt of “doing nothing” this summer. Relaxation doesn’t mean you have to zone out of the couch. It's about doing what makes your soul sing.

Remember those hobbies you’ve been neglecting? It’s time to get back to doing the things you love; so dust off the paintbrushes, lace up your hiking boots, dive into a good book, or get your hands dirty in the garden. Let yourself get lost in what you love and watch your worries melt away.

And don't forget the power of movement! Regular walks, yoga, or any form of exercise can work wonders for your mental well-being. So slow down, recharge, and do what feels good for YOU this summer.

Strategy 3: Planning for a Productive Start to a New Year

As you start feeling refreshed and recharged, begin setting gentle goals for the upcoming school year. Ask yourself, "What do I want to achieve?" and "What new strategies or routines could I try?" Reflect on what will make your teaching more effective and your days more manageable. Revisit the list you created from Strategy 1 and start organizing your thoughts. This preparation prevents the frantic scramble when the school year kicks off, reducing stress and setting you up for success from day one.

Consider mental preparation techniques like visualization or positive affirmations. Visualize a day where everything goes as planned, where your lessons are engaging, and your students are responsive. Affirm your capabilities as an educator with statements like, "I am fully prepared to meet my students’ needs."

Finally, establish self-care routines that persist even when classes resume. Try squeezing in five-minute meditation breaks, setting clear boundaries between work and personal life (no more checking emails after 7 pm!), and connecting with supportive colleagues who understand the demands of our profession. Remember, even small acts of self-care can make a big difference in your well-being and your ability to be an energized and effective teacher for your students all year long.

Enjoy Your Summer!

I hope I've inspired you to truly soak up this summer break and use it to recharge and reflect. It's a time to focus on yourself and come back to the classroom feeling energized and ready to tackle anything.

Don’t forget to download the Special Education Teacher Reflection & Goal-Setting Toolkit to help you celebrate your successes and identify areas for growth.

I'd love to hear how you plan to recharge this summer! Share your strategies in the comments below or send me an email at [email protected]. You can also catch me on IG or Facebook and send me a DM. Here's to a restful and rejuvenating summer break for all of us!!

Don't let the conversation end here.

Tune in to Special Education for Beginners where we dive deeper into topics that matter to you, sharing stories and insights that inspire.

Eager to expand your toolkit? Check out these episodes today:
Episode 161: Counting Down to Summer? 5 Strategies to Stay Stress Free!
Episode 144: 7 Questions to Help Special Educators Reflect




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