Live,  Teach

A Summer of Reflection & Motivation

It is not often that we get the opportunity to slow down and reflect. On the last day of school this year, which was already a month ago (!!!), we had a “half-cap” ceremony for our sophomore students. During the half-cap ceremony many sophomore students were recognized for their accomplishments and successes from this year. While I did not teach all of the students, it was such a positive and uplifting end to the school year. On the last day of school, I also had to say good-bye to one of the teachers at school who truly helped me to become the teacher that I am today. While we will still be friends outside of school, I will miss having her as my thinking partner and someone to walk and talk with in the halls. Both of these events set the tone for my break this year. They have given me the opportunity to pause, reflect, and feel very inspired for the summer.

Over the past couple of years, life has felt especially chaotic—learning to plan, to teach, and to build a course are all exhausting endeavors. Helping to build a new school is rewarding, but it is difficult. In the whirlwind of the school year, it is often difficult to appreciate my students and my coworkers for who they are as individuals and what I learn from them each day. It is often difficult to find reflection time for myself, and the goals I am working on. The bell rings. Class starts. We have 51 minutes to teach and learn. The bell rings again, and students are on their ways. The bell rings. Our meeting begins. We have 51 minutes to take care of business. The bell rings again, and we are on our ways. This happens again and again until the day is over. At 8am the next day, it all starts again. There is a constant sense of only having so much time to plan, to grade, to eat, to use the bathroom, let alone to think. Bell. Bell. Bell. But there comes a time every year when the bells stop and it comes time to slow down.

Each year before this, I have needed the break of summer so much that I was able to turn my school brain off and get into the out-of-school mode very quickly. This year feels so very different. This summer, my brain is filled with ideas and with gratitude to be able to do I do every day. I feel this sense of urgency and responsibility to continue to not only be the best teacher I can be for my students and their families, but also to be the best version of myself.

Here are some things that I am working on that are school related this summer. Details will be coming soon!

  1. Developing Unit Plans for Major Units in My Class—Our school is shifting to unit plans for this next school year! I am really focusing on backwards planning standards & assessments, but also making sure that my Essential Questions are solid and thought provoking.
  2. Rethinking Classroom Systems—I am ALL about organization! Some of my systems have really been working, but others need some revamping this next year. I am really focused on finding a system that works for catching up students who were absent!
  3. Hearing My Students More—I use small forms of discussion in my classroom everyday, but sometimes the structure of lessons can take precedent over listening to who my students are as people and how they are reacting to the lessons we are learning about history. I am thinking intentionally about how to bring this human connection to class as often as possible.
  4. Classroom Set-Up/Design—Anyone who knows me, knows that decorating my classroom is a serious operation. I know that I spend more time awake in my classroom than I do at home. Thus, each year, I think really intentionally about how I will decorate/design for the year ahead. I am already working on a color scheme and some smaller projects to add some new flair to my room this year!

Here are some things that I am working on personally this summer. Details will be coming soon!

  1. Writing My Health Rules—Health is very important to me. I try to eat healthy and exercise consistently. However, especially in the summer, it seems that it can be very easy to go off books. A glass of wine here, a night out there, all seem to really be adding up. I’ve been inspired by a friend, and a pod-cast she shared, to write my health rules so that I stick to them.
  2. Revamping My Office—I love to decorate and make my home really feel warm and inspiring. My office needed a little more pizazz to get the mind going. I am in the midst of the changes and can’t wait to share the final product soon!
  3. Rediscovering My City—I have lived in Chicago for almost 10 years now! In an effort not to feel too comfortable, and to bring some excitement to my days, I am becoming a tourist in my own city. I have a few places on my Chicago Bucket List that I will be sharing!


How are you feeling in the midst of summer? What projects are you working on to be the best version of yourself or the best teacher possible? Are there any particular parts of my classroom or life you would like to hear about? Please comment below!

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