Much like football or soccer, Educators would benefit from an end of summer "training camp" before heading back to the classroom
Every summer, after sleeping in, staying up late, and enjoying the lessened level of responsibility, August would hit, and the feeling that "next year" was only a month away would set in. Yes, for everyone younger than 18, and educators, September mine as well be January, because it is our "new year".
That being said, August would hit, and as an athlete, I knew it was time to start getting ready for the upcoming season. Luckily, at this point of my life, I stayed in pretty good shape, but starting in August I would be sure I was engaging in sport-focused activities and exercises 3 to 4 times a week. It wasn't all day long, and it wasn't always intense, but it started getting me back into the routine of what was ahead. As August progressed, I would increase the intensity leading up to "Preseason". Preseason is where we pushed ourselves twice a day, 6 times a week, to be sure we were ready for the season ahead. How else could a thick-framed guy like me run 2 miles in 11 minutes and 43 seconds? As they say, Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
So how does this relate to education? During my 3rd summer of teaching, I felt a bit nostalgic, missing the days of soccer preseason training. This is when it hit me that I need to reignite my routine, but rather apply it to my professional field instead of the athletic one. So how do you set up your own "Education Preseason Training Camp" ?
1. Get Up Early. When out of routine, getting up early enough to get yourself to work on time can feel dreadful. Start re-training your body to roll out of bed at the time you will during the school year.
2. Two-A-Days. Start putting yourself through Two-A-Day "practices" 3-5 times per week for the two weeks prior to school starting. Each practice lasts about 1 1/2 hours, for a total of 3 hours per day. The relatively short span should help you keep from burning out during too long of a session. Just taking the time to engage with the curriculum, develop new projects, create new classroom activities, and prepare for the year ahead will do you wonders when the school year hits. It will also get you back into the routine of the work cycle.
3. Create A Goal. Much like running 2 miles in under 12 minutes, nothing good comes without some hard work. Pick one new classroom initiative, technique, or model to implement and prepare for it as much as you possibly can during your preseason. Trying to implement new ideas on the fly can be extremely overwhelming early in the year....problem is that early in the year is the best time to acclimate the students to such items. Prepare ahead of time.
4. Develop Your Game. Much of preseason goes towards addressing what aspects of your game needs work. Teachers should do the same. Do you hate ed-tech? Pick a web-tool to master for the upcoming year. Do you want decrease your lecture time? Do some research on student-centered teaching techniques. Do you want to spice up motivation and engagement in your room? Look at possibilities for classroom gamification. Whether it is literacy goals, math application stations, classroom management, or any other aspect of teaching, reflect on where you can step up your game, and work to do so.
5. Enjoy The Down Time. Yes, it may seem like I'm suggesting you do a lot, but hey, preseason is tough. But with your preseason training camp still comes plenty of down time. The plan would call for 9-15 hours per week of professional engagement. That's out of 168 hours in a week. So enjoy, relax, and soak in the sun with the rest of your hours.....September is just around the corner.