Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
~Margaret J. Wheatley
Now that we’re rapidly moving to the end of the school year, we may be ready to just close (or slam) the door on this year altogether. Before you quickly run to summer, I encourage all of you to do whatever you need to do to feel some peaceful closure on the year. No matter how different things looked and felt this year, we’ve all learned some pretty big lessons. One of the most apparent being: we can do hard things.
By resisting the urge to just put this year in the books right away and spending a little time reflecting, we will perhaps be able to move into our summer feeling a little freer. We all deserve a summer of rejuvenation, and starting now with some reflecting will ensure a little more peace and ease as we let this school year go and move into the next season of the year.
Here are three ways to reflect and move into your summer with ease:
One of my favorite ways to reflect is to write a letter to my future self about all that I want to remember about the previous experience. This is a perfect activity for the end of a school year because we have so much fresh in our minds, have learned so many lessons, and by the time summer is over much of that may have floated away from our memory.
So, a letter to your future self is something that can capture all of your experience and what you want to remember and you will somehow keep this letter for yourself at the beginning of next school year.
The letter can take whatever shape you feel it needs to take. Remember, you’re the only one seeing it. After you’re finished, leave it somewhere in your classroom where it will be safe or take it home and put it in a safe place until the school year preparation begins. You could even set an alarm/reminder on your phone for a future date to help yourself remember to open it.
Another way to reflect and move into your summer with ease is through the “brain dump.” Simply, get a piece of paper, set a timer for 10 minutes (or whatever time you have) and just let it rip. Get it all out on paper: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t censor or hold back. Don’t worry about spelling errors or missed punctuation. You can bullet a list, write paragraphs, draw pictures, or write all over the paper. Whatever you want to do to get your school year out on paper.
After your time is up and you feel satisfied that it’s all there, now you have a choice. You can read it, leave it, or burn it. You can read and then burn too. Often I just keep what I’ve written and don’t really look back on it but the activity of getting the words on paper and out of my mind are very helpful.
Create some kind of ritual or simple ceremony to end your school year and allow yourself to let go of all of it. So often we hear threats of students “burning all of their papers in a bonfire” on their last day of school. I’m not saying you need to do that, but to create a way to make a clean break and start your summer officially.
Put a solid end date to finishing everything in your classroom and decide what your ritual, ceremony, or break will be. Perhaps you could turn around and look at your classroom intentionally and say a few words before turning out the light. Maybe you want to go to a place where your class spent a lot of time outside and have a moment of honoring all that happened throughout the past year. Find a meaningful activity that in your mind signifies the end of something but the beginning of another. Perhaps you take a circular walk at your favorite spot, buy yourself a book that you plan on reading this summer, or plant something that you will care for and watch grow during this season.
Creating this meaningful break can be very simple, but when we bring intentionality to our actions these kinds of activities can be very powerful.
So I’d love to hear if you tried any of these activities and how you felt making that transition from school to summer. Although we all love this time, it can be a difficult transition to make. We’ll be talking all about that in the weeks to come. Have a great time reflecting and making the transition from school to summer with a little more ease.
If you are looking for some support with looking for ways to start your summer vacation N.O.W. please check out Teaching Well’s Teacher Wellness Coaching and schedule a FREE Teacher Wellness Coaching call.