As the school year winds down, you may find yourself ready to take a break and recharge. Many art teachers use the summer vacation from school to revise or tweak the curriculum, catch up on appointments, take graduate classes, or pick up a summer job. Meeting the diverse needs of your students has been a priority all school year. Summer break may feel less like a vacation and more like a long-standing to-do list. You have spent a lot of your time taking care of others—now, it is time to do the same for yourself.
The time to recharge has arrived! How will you prioritize yourself? Keep reading for six ways to focus on you this summer.
1. Dedicate time just for you!
Instead of playing catch-up on your long to-do list, grab a piece of paper and write a new one. Top priority: YOU. You, the busy art teacher, are at the top of your own list because your time and energy are ready for the reset button. Under your name, jot down anything and everything that lights you up, brings you life, and helps you feel happy and centered. If you feel artsy, make this handwritten list into a vision board, or turn it into a graphic using your favorite digital design program.
The next steps are important. Place this dedicated “you-time” list somewhere in your home where you will see it every day. Doing this will constantly remind you to put yourself first. Schedule in your calendar or mark activities on your daily checklist to reserve uninterrupted time just for you. Need some ideas to start your list? Check out the self-care section in this article, and keep your pencil handy!
2. Simplify and focus on what matters most.
Your time outside of the art room is just as important as what you spend on the clock. You are often tasked with designing lessons that concentrate on the essentials, so what if you approach your personal life like this? In other words, do you really need to do it all? If you feel stretched and overwhelmed, consider how you can revise the expectations you have for yourself and take the pressure off. Angela Watson’s Truth for Teachers Teacher Lifestyle Lab offers an inexpensive, self-paced online course called Fewer Things Better Project, where you can identify priorities in both your personal and professional life. Over the summer, you can focus on your personal life and prepare to simplify and refocus your teaching life when the new school year rolls around.
3. Take time to create.
Despite wanting to avoid obligations to do anything school-related during your summer break, some art teachers still love taking graduate courses. Luckily, AOEU has several studio courses ready for art teachers who want to fulfill professional development hours while also satisfying their creative side. Learning and growing don’t have to be all about researching and writing papers in the education world. With AOEU, art teachers have a professional community ready to support one another, both as art teachers and artists, making the learning experience personal and much needed.
Take a look at some studio courses tailored for you to create and learn. You can also view the syllabus in the description for each course to see which studio class is the perfect fit for you!
If you don’t have time to take a course, check out our PRO Packs to learn something new without sacrificing valuable time:
- Using Acrylic Gels and Mediums
- Art Therapy Basics
- Mixed-Media Basics
- Creating With Recycled Materials
- Getting Started With Encaustics
And if your budget doesn’t allow for a paid artmaking session, grab some art supplies and join one of our Make Art With Me IG Lives over on Instagram every Monday afternoon. Carve out time to learn fun new techniques along with other artists and art teachers in this informal context.
You may decide to explore creative avenues without the pressure of meeting deadlines, and that works too! Head to your local art supply store, order materials online, or scavenge your home studio for inspiration. Do you want to reconnect with your inner artist? Check out this article to see how easy it is. Being creative can go beyond making visual artwork. Many artists love to create through writing, singing, cooking, playing instruments, dancing, or whatever else feels fulfilling.
4. Plan to explore.
Traveling to a new place, visiting a favorite destination, planning a stay-cation, or going on one-day local trips are all fun ways to recharge. Art teachers are naturally curious, so why not engage in exploration mode by switching up your environment? While traveling, be sure to check the city’s tourism sites and plan visits to museums, art galleries, or local artists’ shops.
If you are interested in making traveling part of your school year, there are options to spark the wanderlust in your students while deeply connecting to your curriculum. Allow these archives to grab your attention:
- Pack Your Bags! Travel for Teachers (Ep. 35)
- 5 Ways to Make Your Travel Dreams Come True
- 4 Ways to Make Travel Part of Your Teaching
- Enhancing Your Curriculum Through Travel (Ep. 297)
5. Set boundaries.
When art teachers break free from their busy art rooms, the summer break may seem endlessly open. You may be looking forward to this time to tackle the bigger school-related projects on your to-do list because now you have more time. As you approach your summer, consider laying down some ground rules. We all know how summer break can fly by in a blink of an eye. Setting boundaries around your schedule can help you stay focused while still prioritizing yourself.
Here are some ideas to help you set summer schoolwork boundaries:
- Limit yourself to a predesignated amount of time to work on schoolwork each week.
- Check school email only once a week.
- Set a budget amount for any supply purchases you make with your personal money.
- Ask yourself if you really need a particular “must-have classroom item” before it goes into the shopping cart.
- Practice saying “no” to volunteer summer work so you feel confident when asked to do so during the school year.
- Schedule reasonable working time to prepare your art room.
6. Reflect on the positives.
As you look back on the school year, dedicate time to celebrate what went well in your life as an art teacher. During your reflection, be specific about all of the positive things that happened to you individually and with your art students inside and outside of the art room walls. Notice how consistently thinking positive thoughts boosts your mood or puts a smile on your face. Reaching for those rewarding feelings at the end of the school year can help you leave on a positive note and bring a sense of satisfaction for the awesome job you did.
Remember, you have been working hard all year, and it is time for you to take a much-needed break. Indulge in what makes you happy and re-energizes your mind, body, and spirit. When you take care of yourself, everyone around you benefits. Putting yourself first and investing in yourself will be just the thing you need to recharge for the next school year.
How do you re-energize and take care of yourself?
Where do you find inspiration to create and refuel your tank?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.