What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Like many teachers (and students) across the country, I am well aware that summer is winding down. The Target ads taunt me and the calendar confirms it: by August 26th I am back to school for a week of teacher meetings, and classes officially start the day after Labor Day.
The waning days of summer can be characterized by low-grade anxiety and wishful thinking. Am I ready for the new school year? Did I accomplish all I’d hoped to during the break? I have a “Summer to do List” posted on the fridge, and I’ve managed to cross off many of the items, but others remain, nagging me as I retrieve the milk for my cereal. The new carpet for the family room will be installed next week, but there’s a pile of outgrown clothes to sort. I’ve managed to map out the first unit of my Thematic course, but my new classroom is far from ready and my books remain in boxes. I didn’t lose 15 pounds, and the garage is cluttered. I’d hoped to polish off letters of recommendation for my rising seniors. I wouldn’t say no to a few more weeks of free time, but looking back over the last few months, I can say that the summer of 2013 was filled with relaxation and personal growth, rest and fitness, time with family and professional development.
I attended a week-long workshop at the Stanley H. King Counseling Institute, where I learned and practiced valuable listening skills and thought about how to support students without trying to “fix” their problems. Below, I’ve posted a picture of my “small group,” including our fearless leader, Paula Chu:
I also had an opportunity to spend a week in the Adirondacks, studying the history of this region during the Gilded Age and exploring the “Great Camps.” This program was sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and included lectures, tours, a visit to the Adirondack Museum and an aerial tour of the wilderness.
This was a banner summer for family time, including not one but two major family reunions. The opportunity to gather three generations for fun and storytelling was priceless, and the young cousins were fast friends.
Not all family time was on an epic scale. There were quiet days with my son and daughter, where we read, splashed at the neighborhood pool, and grilled on the back patio. We took family day trips to Hershey Park and Bethany Beach. I dusted off my golf clubs for an outing with my husband.
There was also some “me” time. I have always been a voracious reader, and once I start a book, I’ve been known to stay up half the night reading. I read widely this summer, from popular recent fiction by Lionel Shriver and Liane Moriarty, to weighty autobiographies such as TJ Parsall’s saga of life in prison and Kimberley Rae Miller’s tale of growing up with parents who were intense hoarders. You can check out the Googledoc that lists all of the books my 13 year old son, 9 year old daughter and I have read since the school year ended: http://tinyurl.com/l2wbhc9
Summertime means more time to exercise, and I have toured the Maryland countryside on my bike and joined an early morning swim group. I am preparing for an early September triathlon (my 8th), and the race serves as a motivational carrot and stick. I’ve even managed to introduce some new vegetables into my diet, and “kale” is no longer a four-letter word.
So, perhaps the clothes sorting can wait for a Sunday afternoon in October, and it may be mid-September before I am fully settled in my new teaching space. The workmen promise it will be beautiful when it is completed!
The garage is organized enough that I can park my car and find my bike and helmet, and although the scale hasn’t budged I feel stronger and more fit. The lesson plans will come together, and hopefully memories of “fun summer Mom” will buy me some good will with my kids when “cranky school year Mom” is rushing everyone out the door. It has been a wonderful few months of renewal and while I will be sad for it to end, I am already dreaming up new adventures for summer 2014.