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Monday, September 7, 2015

That Summer Feeling

Camping and birding at Rondeau, summer 2015
As my colleagues and I greet each other in the halls the first day back after a ten-week school closure, we inevitably remark how RELAXED we all look. Some of us travelled, some had more time just to get down on hands and knees with their children or take them to the park every single day. Worry lines have disappeared from around our eyes. We are glowing with the renewed energy that comes from two straight months of far less stress in our lives.

"Do you think we can carry some summer forward into our whole year?" one new teacher muses at the copy machine.

"I sure plan to," I reply.

And I do.

A long break helped me see what a workaholic I can be. It showed me the value of taking time just to sit by the water with my icy beverage and library book. How can I carry a bit of that into my teaching year?

For a long time I've recognized in me the need to work smarter instead of working more. This year I hope to follow even more faithfully Martine's rule number one: whenever possible, have the students do the work.

So far, I'm on target. On the first day, instead of having spent any part of the prior evening dreaming up peer survey questions like, "Where did you go this summer," I had students brainstorm the questions they wished to ask one another. Instead of spending my prep time at the copy machine, I put a sample graphic organizer on the board and passed out notebook paper. The students made the peer survey grid.

I'm not sure I would ever go so far as to have students cut up pieces for info gap and unscrambling activities, but shy of that I believe there are many ways I could cut my prep time while simultaneously allowing students to take over jobs from me in ways that have value to them as language learners.

Outside the classroom, meanwhile, I intend to carry forward that summer feeling by taking more day trips, carving out weekend time for more bike rides, more walks in the woods, more live music in small venues, more open mic nights, more fiction, more movies and just in general more ME time.

By living a life with more balance, I trust my students will benefit by having a rested, relaxed, happy teacher in the classroom with them.

What about you? How do you work on a good work-life balance?

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