3 ways teachers can really recharge this summer

It is not hyperbole to say that this is a difficult time to be a teacher. Teachers currently find themselves caught between wanting to see their students in their classrooms and also worried about their health and the health of their families. Under what guidelines should schools return? The Center for Disease Control and the American Association of Pediatrics can’t seem to agree, and this debate is now being played out in the political arena.

Teachers often use the summer to revamp their curriculum, collect ideas, and engage in some professional development. This summer, however, probably the best thing for teachers to do is try to relax and recharge — there are many things out of our control right now, so it is probably better to focus on what we can. Here are 3 ways that you can focus on yourself this summer.

1) Walk yourself into positive thinking

We all know that there are many health benefits to taking a walk, but walking can also be a great way to clear your mind. I came across this great quote, courtesy of Tim Ferris (who has a great podcast in his own right):

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk: Every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness: I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.”

– Søren Kierkegaard

2) Enjoy a new podcast!

There are many great podcasts out there, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are my recommendations. For a laugh (and who couldn’t use a laugh now), the Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend podcast rarely disappoints. Even if you don’t find Conan O’Brien that funny, you’re sure to find a guest that you’ll enjoy. The great thing about podcasts like these is that the content is always fresh; you can go back and listen to podcasts from last year and still get a great laugh.

For something a little more rigorous, I highly recommend In Your Ear Shakespeare. I’ve always enjoyed Shakespeare, but even if Shakespeare was never your thing, the podcast advertises itself as “the cure for boring Shakespeare.” The host, Ehrein Zeigler, does a terrific job — telling the plays through the eyes of an actor while also bringing an impressive array of historical references and insights in a very approachable and entertaining manner. I’ve listened to A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth during the pandemic, and they were both amazing.

3) Get lost in a great book.

I love books. I’m still a guy that likes real books – the feel, look, and smell of a new book is a wonderful thing. I’ve picked up two books recently that I’m happy to recommend.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World is the latest book by David Epstein.  The book obliquely takes aim at another book I enjoyed, Peak by Anders Ericcson. In Peak, Ericsson put forward his theory of deliberate practice as the answer to how anyone can master just about anything. Epstein takes aim at this thesis by making the case that generalists have a much better chance at success. Epstein uses evidence and great storytelling to make his case — and it is a convincing one.

I’ve been following the work of Shuchi Grover for years, both on twitter and via her published research on Computer Science Education. Grover is a senior research scientist at Looking Glass Ventures and a visiting scholar at Stanford University, and she just published a wonderful new book, Computer Science in K12: An A to Z Handbook on Teaching Programming. This book has contributions from over 30 different authors, some researchers like Grover and others that are classroom Computer, Science teachers. Teachers of CS will find valuable information, and the ubiquity of computers and smart devices makes the book important and timely for all educators.

It has always been important for teachers to recharge during the summer, and this summer that importance is magnified. Let’s support one another as we look to the beginning of this upcoming school year without losing sight of the time we still have left this summer.