Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

Happy August all! As you read this, I am spending some amazing time in one of my favorite places in the whole whole: the Jersey Shore. But as I relax and spend some much needed time with my family before heading back into the day to day work of a classroom teacher, I am trying to build up or get back into some habits that make my life as a teacher easier, more rewarding and in general more effective. For many people these are habits they already have, but after the summer I always need a bit of a hard reboot before the school year.

  1. Start waking up earlier and build a morning routine.
    To be honest, I have always been an early riser, so even in the summer I have been getting up early. However, some of the morning habits I have developed this summer are not going to be feasible during the actual school year. For example, a huge blessing of this summer has been taking a daily walk with my family at 7:30 am each day. But during the school year I need to be at work by 7:30 at the latest, so I need to start shifting the walk earlier, or develop another routine to spend time with my husband and son before work starts. Throughout August I start getting up earlier and trying to get through my morning like I do on school days. An added perk is that without having to go to work yet, I tend to get more housework done before the day truly starts for the whole family.
  2. Exercise two to three days a week at a time when you could during the school year.
    During the summer I am spoiled. As a distance runner, it can be hard to get good workouts in during the school year, but once summer hits, I can go for a run almost any time during the morning, especially because of my husband’s work schedule. Because of this, I’ve been enjoying running between 7 and 8 most days, which is simply not feasible during the school year. So starting in August, I move my runs to late afternoons or early early mornings because that is what I can do once the year starts. If you’ve been enjoying morning or lunch time workout classes or groups, start looking for the same type of class in the afternoons or evenings.
  3. Try to set up monthly non work social gatherings during the year.
    Because my husband works nights, I spend most of my time with children only. I teach middle school all day and then from the end of work to bedtime I solo parent our two year old. Not only is this tricky for a marriage, it also took a toll on my mental health last year. Working out childcare for a once a month outing with friends is completely worth it. Some ideas are: bowling, trivia at a local restaurant, a manicure or even just a kids-free walk in the park. I know hiring a sitter can be pricey, but it’s totally worth it. And for all my single working friends, it’s still super important to invest in yourself and your friendships this way- it’s not a working mom tip only, but that is where I am in my life right now.
  4. Plan ahead for spiritual growth.
    If you’ve been following the blog or just joined this community recently, you’ll have hopefully caught my summmer spirituality series. You can read about it here and catch the entire book list for this summer here. But at the end of each summer I make a pile of all the spiritual and self help books I want to read throughout the year and commit to reading at least one a month. This helps me continue my own spiritual growth and also gives me lots of great ideas to chare with my students. So far on my list for next year I have Praying with Therese of Lisieux and Hildegard of Bingen, a Spiritual Reader. I’m thinking of focusing on the female Doctors of the Church this year. Having a pile set for the year and the flexibility of when to start and finish each book helps me to stay commited to spiritual reading by making it easy to do.
  5. Appreciate the summer break.
    While many people think that teachers take the summer “off” anyone who knows a teacher knows the truth. We are always learning, growing, and working on our days away from the classroom. But in August it’s really easy to get bogged down in the labeling, letter writing and classroom prep. This year I am being forced to take a step back from these pursuits because my school is a construction zone and I had to turn in my keys. So I am making a conscience effort to do the things I need to for the year, but in the times when I am not working, I am trying to enjoy the moment. I’ve been blessed to travel this summer, and while it is hard to relax and not think about the work and the money and the struggles of teaching and having a family, I am doing my best. I even wrote this post ahead of time so I could relax on the beach while you are reading it.

Hopefully these ideas can help you prep for your best school year ever! What are some habits that help you stay happy and healthy while teaching?

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