Summer break is YOUR time to relax, reflect and recharge. As a band director, are you really ever able to turn off thinking about or planning for your program? Probably not; however, summer break is a great time for self-care, looking back and being inspired. Many directors spend the summer break working non-stop to prepare for the new school year ahead, which, over time, can lead to burn out or loss of interest / passion for what you do as an educator. It is difficult to give 100% effort, full speed ahead, like we do as band directors, 12 months a year.
Here are some suggestions to help navigate the summer break and still feel that sense of accomplishment and planning for the coming year.
The most important item to focus on during the summer break is YOU. Taking care of yourself – mentally and physically. It is important to recover from the busy year you just experienced. Remember, you have nothing to prove to others of how great an educator you are, so give yourself grace and take time off – away from classes, planning, rehearsals, meetings, inventory, fund raising, etc. You may feel guilty taking the time for yourself; however, you need / deserve it. You give to others 100% of the time and need time for YOU.
- Read – for pleasure! You have TIME to read now. It is a wonderful way to allow your mind to go to different places and learn about different people and cultures.
- Walk, do yoga, anything physical. Get your body moving as it is proven to reduce the pressures of everyday life and allow you to relax.
You are important and cannot effectively maintain a twelve month, twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week saturation of your career. We all love what we do, but we also need some time away from it in order to rejuvenate ourselves and allow our creative ideas to blossom for our future students.
Use this much needed time away from the classroom to slow down your pace. During the school year, we are pros at multitasking, planning awesome lesson plans, attending meetings, planning and executing concerts / events, hold student leadership meetings, booster meetings, working with students before and after school (and during our lunch!) and everything else that is thrown our way in addition to teaching all of our classes!
Slow down! Train your body and mind to take a breath and take care of things in a more non-chaotic atmosphere. You are in control of your time during this break. A friend once told me, “you know, all of this chaos and busy schedule you have is self-inflicted – you know that right?”. That really resonated with me. Even during the summer, I was going 100 miles an hour to make sure everything was set up to be bigger and better than the year before. I had to teach myself to slow down, which was not an easy task to achieve. My pace was so fast during the school year that I continued that throughout the summer break and was exhausted, not refreshed, when the new school year began. Something had to give.
Slowing down my pace, scheduling things that needed to be done more sporadically and not one on top of another, learning to say “no” to people, were some of the things that helped allow me to slow down my pace. So, in the middle of the day, go sit by the beach, the pool or even your couch to catch up on a book, listen to an audio book or music, take a nap or watch a movie you NEVER got to see during the school year. Any activity that does not require you to make decisions and be on the go, will help to give you an opportunity to train your mind and body to slow down your pace for relaxation.
Engage in non-teaching related activities:
- Spend time doing something you love, but never seem to have time to do, that does not involve teaching!
- Take care of house projects that have been on your list, but never seemed to get done. Organize, declutter closets, clean the garage – even though these do not sound fun, you will be surprised that by focusing on something like this, your mind will shift gears and allow relaxation to occur.
- Spend quality time with family and friends. (key word is quality – be engaged, present in the moment – not distracted by what you need to do next for your program). It is important to stay connected to friends and family catching up on all of the important events in their life. The connection to people is invaluable!
- Take a vacation or staycation and get out of the daily environment you live in, even for a day. Change of scenery is good for the soul. It is a beautiful world out there, explore it, even if it is simply down the road!
- Engage in anything that allows YOU to relax.
Use this summer break to reflect on the past year to celebrate your successes and work on things you feel need improvement. If you allow yourself to become stagnant and simply do things each year as you have in the past, your program may not progress as you would expect. Simply being present does not allow growth in your program. Change things up. It is sometimes difficult to think of how to do this when the school year is underway, so using this summer break to brainstorm ways to go about achieving things a bit differently will help keep your program fresh for you and your students.
Things that work well, leave them alone! Things that work but need an adjustment come up with a different method to implement. Areas that you do not feel were successful, start anew and introduce something completely different. What could it hurt?
- As crazy as this sounds, find a day or two to go into your school and simply look at how the room is organized, instruments, music library, uniforms, files, etc. Really evaluate how functional everything is that you use throughout the year. The summer break allows you the TIME to go at your own pace and really dig deep into the methods that you use to have an organized program. CutTime is a tool that could be infused into your program to help you with many of these overwhelming tasks.
The bottom line is to look at your overall program and find the strong / weak areas and work to build and enhance your students’ experience. It is about the students after all!
This part of the summer break is crucial! You have passion about music, kids and teaching or you would not be on this crazy roller coaster ride! There is nothing like going into the new school year full of energy and new teaching ideas.
- Find a professional development workshop which interests you and attend. It could be a motivational workshop, a conducting workshop, a reading session, a tried and true methods workshop. Anything that will inspire you and give you new and different methods to use as you approach the new school year with your program.
- Read inspirational, professional articles, listen to podcasts, attend concerts. You will be surprised how these experiences will breathe new life into your creative process and allow you to be open to different experiences to provide for your students.
- Spend time with other professionals in your field. Share stories, ideas, music literature. It is invaluable to hear and share best practices with our colleagues!
We don’t want to lose you! We have lost so many of our colleagues who are deciding to leave the profession. We are human. Be selfish. Take the time for yourself.
Your students and your community need you. Take the time in the summer break to relax, reflect and recharge so that you are ready for the new school year ahead and feel empowered to give your students the most rewarding music education possible.
Thank you to GoCutTime.com a Band Directors Talk Shop business partner, and Jeff Dodd for providing this article.
Let CutTime help you crank up your world-class, well-oiled machine and take away the time that you spend on administrative tasks and give you back the time to focus on developing good humans and musicians! If you would like to find out more about CutTime, contact us at 1-800-310-0087 or at GoCutTime.com.
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