I Know What You Didn’t Do Last Summer: Ideas for time off from teaching

Are you on vacation now? Will you have a break later in the year? Compare how you’ve made use of your free time in the past to the possibilities listed below.

  • Learn how to use a new piece of technology. Chances are if you improve your knowledge of technology, you’ll be able to apply it not only to your teaching but to your personal life as well. For example, knowing how to edit and produce videos allowed me recently to create a nice compilation of video clips and still images from my son’s kindergarten graduation ceremony. What could you learn this summer? Do you know how to convert a sound file from wmv to mp3? Here’s another suggestion: download a 30-day free trial of Photoshop, Camtasia Studio, or other software and play around with it after browsing through the tutorials.    

  • Check out the scrapbooking section the next time you visit a department store or well-stocked pharmacy. Magnetic frames and unusual decorative stickers are among the interesting finds you can make and put to use upon your return to teaching. You can feature a student composition or inspiring quote in a special way.

  • Make a trip to the public library. Visit different departments, not just the section devoted to ESL/ EFL (if your town is lucky to have one).  Talk with librarians and discover an interesting collection of paintings, some fun comic strips, or books on tape. Maybe an up-and-coming children’s author has published a book in rhyme. Note titles of books that lend themselves to language lessons. When you plan future lessons, you’ll realize how past discoveries connect to certain lesson topics.

  • Recycle unnecessary papers and organize the rest. If you delay this year after year, you might be in my position. Well, actually I’ve always organized, but I’ve avoided throwing papers away or recycling them. My goal this summer is to sort through old handouts and lesson plans. I hope to toss as much as possible into the recycling bin. New ideas will be stored digitally only.

  • Visit new sites and new blogs. I’ve said to others that ESL/ EFL blogs are somewhat like kernels of corn popping. They’ve appeared in abundance, and it’s tempting to take a big yummy handful all at once and try to swallow. However, perhaps we should approach these online resources like something gourmet rather than something from a fast-food assembly line. A small number of unhurried explorations likely yield better results than a mass of rushed visits. When free time appears, I like to visit one new blog and really get to know the author’s style, focus, and biography.  If I like what I see, I note it. (See my Blogroll.)

  • Rest, rest, rest and enjoy other activities. Do take time to clear your mind and enter a peaceful, silent state. New ideas for teaching will find their way into your head only if you’re well rested.

    Rest Your Whole Self

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