How to Make the Most of Your Time This Summer (Ep. 018)

Summer offers great opportunities and possibilities to better ourselves as people, artists, and educators. This episode is the perfect tool to help you decide exactly what you are going to do this summer. Holly Bess Kincaid joins the show to talk about her Fulbright-Hays Seminar which allowed her to spend last summer in China. She talks about experiencing educational culture in China (3:00), seeing art from throughout China’s history (4:30) and sharing cultural understanding with her own students (5:30). Alecia Eggers also stops by to share her six tips for making the most of your time off (9:15). So what will you do? Learn new media or techniques? Take classes? Spend time with your family? Recharge and relax? Listen to this episode, make a plan, and get the most out of these two months–no matter what you choose to do. Full episode transcript below.


Resources and Links:

  • Here are some of AOE’s favorite articles about summer:

12 Signs You’re Ready For Summer Vacation

10 Ways to Get Summer Break Started Off on the Right Foot

5 Ways to Get Inspired at a Summer Arts Festival

A Must-Read Guide for Artistic Summer Vacations




Art Ed Radio Episode 18



Welcome to Art Ed Radio, the podcast for art teachers. This show is produced by The Art of Education and I’m your host, Tim Bogatz.

Finally, summer is here. If it’s not, let me say, first of all, that I’m really sorry for you because it’s been a lot of fun so far. Secondly, it will be coming soon. Hang in there. That excitement that summer brings comes from a couple of things. First, just being done with school is such a relief but secondly, the anticipation and the potential that comes with every summer. The possibilities are limitless. Think about all the things you can do: the travels, the art to make, the big projects you haven’t had a chance to do this year.

If you’re anything like me though, you start the summer with an ambitious set of plans. Dreams of grandeur and greatness with everything that you want to do. Then, two months later you find yourself sitting back at school, going through in-service days with nothing crossed off the to-do list and wondering where all that time went.

We’re going to talk today about some of the best things you can do to make the most of your summer. We’re going to do two great interviews. I’ll talk to Holly Bess Kincaid. An amazing teacher who spent last summer in China and Hong Kong. And we’ll talk to Alecia Eggers from the Art of Ed who’s going to join me as we talk about her six favorite tips to take advantage of all of this upcoming free time.

Let’s start the show with something that’s going to appeal to all of you overachievers. In just a minute, I’m going to talk to Holly Bess Kincaid, a really smart, really engaging middle school teacher, like I said, who spent five weeks last summer as part of a Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program that traveled to China and Hong Kong. I want to ask her about the art that she was able to see, the culture she was able to experience. All of the amazing stuff that happened when she went and what from that she can bring back to her classroom.

Even though very few of us are going to do something that impressive with our upcoming summer, it’s a good inspiration and it gives us something to dream about. Let’s kick off the summer episode by jumping into that interview.

All right, I’m here with Holly Bess Kincaid and this show is all about making the most of your summer and we tried to think of somebody who did just the coolest thing you can possibly think of over the summer. Holly Bess, last year you were able to travel to China and Hong Kong as part of the Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program. Can you tell us some of the highlights of that trip.

Holly: It was a wonderful trip for five weeks, traveling through different parts and regions of China. Some of the highlights I think, in Bejing, we got to visit the Dandelion School which is a wonderful school dedicated to middle school students who are specifically from low income and migrant families. Those students really have a very difficult time and their educational opportunities are somewhat restrained so this is a great school to give them an opportunity to really boost their educational opportunities and forecast of what they might do in the future.

We worked with them on English and reading newspapers and articles and even sang a little Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off” with them. It was quite fun.

We went to Shangjing, which was actually the capital at one point and visited a school that performed a dragon dance for us. The middle school and high school students really made us feel like we were superstars. Teachers are very honored in China, the Laoshi is quite honored and we really felt like we were really getting a great retreat to see them perform the dragon dance.

I think everywhere we went we were really treated to some of the best foods, and museums, and experiences to get to meet so many wonderful professors and visit so many universities throughout China.

Tim: Oh cool. That’s sounds so great. I can’t even imagine five weeks. That sounds like a lot of fun. It sounds like you learned a ton but I guess my question is, from the trip what have you brought back to your classroom or what have you brought back to your colleagues?

Holly: I think it’s really opened my eyes to a variety of art forms that are really created throughout China’s history. Some of which, I think I’ve been aware of: the Terracotta warriors, seeing the pottery. We actually got to see some artwork that dated back to the Neolithic times. Even some of the contemporary artists, I was really amazed when we got to visit the 798 District in Bejing and got to see some contemporary artwork. I thought that really spoke to some of the struggles the culture is having right now.

It’s really interesting to see the history of such a long living culture that has been spoken through the arts.

Tim: Yeah, that’s really neat. I like the idea of that juxtaposition with the contemporary artist, as well. That had to be fascinating.

Holly: It really was.

Tim: Very cool. Thinking of teachers who might want to do something similar, some kind of travel like that, can you talk a little bit about the process? How you became involved? Was it really difficult for you? Would you recommend that teachers apply to do something like this?

Holly: I became involved and interested because my school that I teach in is very diverse. We have students who are refugees and immigrants who speak 50 different languages at home. I really wanted and felt that there was a strong need for me to have a more global understanding and discussion with my students. I sought out different opportunities. The Fullbright-Hays seminar actually offers different locations each year. I know Peru is one of the options this year.

It’s quite a lengthy application but I think any application and anything worth doing might take a little effort. Five weeks in China, you can’t beat it. It’s life changing and priceless.

You apply through a website, the G5, it’s a government website. It’s a little hard to navigate so if someone’s interested I’d be glad to step them through it. They can send me an email and I’ll help them. I would definitely recommend it. You look in the December/January times for some of those opportunities to travel abroad in the summer. You find out in May if you’re accepted. It’s a wonderful opportunities to meet other educators from around the United States and travel together.

Tim: That sounds so cool. The last question here, what do you do this summer? Like you said, you can’t top five weeks in China. That’s the experience of a lifetime. What are you going to do this year as a follow up? What’s on tap for this summer?

Holly: It took pretty much my whole summer to go to China. The first weeks of my summer were preparations and then when we came back it was really trying to jump back into school. This summer I’m really stepping back. I’m going to call it my summer of fab summer. It’s going to be filled with family time that I missed out on a little bit last year and really working on my inner artist. I think seeing all the artwork in China has really inspired me. I have quite a few things that I want to experiment with and create with based on some of the things that I saw and experiences. My inner artist is needing a little bit of time.

And then really working on a part of my website that is going to help my students sort of have a flipped opportunity and to choose some of the cultures that they might want to look through and learn about. I’m working on trying to finish that part of my website so my students can really be actively engaged in their learning in the fall.

Tim: That sounds awesome. Cool. Thank you very much for joining us. That’s some great insight into what we can do and hopefully you’ve inspired some teachers to maybe take a look at that program, as well. Thanks for coming on.

Holly: Thank you. Hope everyone has a wonderful summer.

Tim: Like I said to Holly, if that does inspire you, let me know. Hit me up at We can get you in touch with Holly and hopefully she can share some of her expertise if you’re interested in applying or interested in doing something similar that she was talking about.

If we can change direction though. We need to talk about maybe some more realistic goals for the rest of us because let’s face it, we can’t all travel abroad on scholarship program. There are a lot of great options for what you can do this summer maybe just a little bit closer to home.

I asked Alecia Eggers, the Art of Ed Social Media Manager, for her best tips of making the most of her summer. She had a list of six that she wanted to share with us. So let me jump right into that.

I am here now with Alecia Eggers. Alecia, how are you? How is your summer going so far?

Alecia: Hey Tim! My summer is going really wonderfully. I am so excited to finally be in actual summer mode. I am though also in wedding mode so I have that coming up here in a few weeks. Wedding mode and summer mode are kind of a great dual mode to be in.

Tim: Are you feeling super swamped with the wedding stuff though?

Alecia: Yeah. A lot of the stuff I saved for summer since I would have that time to dedicate to it.

Tim: Yeah. Fair enough. Am I still invited, by the way?

Alecia: I guess. I haven’t gotten your RSVP, so I don’t really know. It’s up to you now. Ball is in your court.

Tim: That’s true. This is true everyone. I’m procrastinating on the RSVP.

I know that you have your six big tips for making the most of your summer that you wanted to share with us. Hit us up with one. What is number one?

Alecia: Absolutely. Number one is make art.

Tim: Nice. I like that. We just recorded an episode last week about why teachers need to make art. We talked about how summer is the perfect time to do that. Guys, if you haven’t listened to that episode, go back and do that right now.

Let me ask you. What kind of art do you like to make? What do you like to do during the summer?

Alecia: I just love to definitely do some painting. Get together with some of my art colleagues. We kind of just make things that make us happy and I feel like summer is the perfect time to do that. I will say though that a lot of my art this summer is wedding related. It’s still art but it has a theme.

Tim: There you go. It’s for a good cause so that’ll be good. What is number two?

Alecia: It actually kind of goes with number one. I also love to explore new media and new techniques.

Tim: That’s a good one.

Alecia: Yeah. Summer is a really great time that I feel like I can dedicate more time to figuring out new media and new techniques that I personally like and then maybe consider taking it back to the classroom.

Tim: I like that. What have you done recently? What are some of the new things that you’ve tried or new things that you found that you really liked?

Alecia: Oh gosh. I mean, I always love any kind of print making and exploring all different things with that. I’ve always been obsessed with the gelli plate fad going on right now. That’s really, really awesome. I’m up for anything. I really want to try, I know it’s very Pinteresty, but the ink and the alcohol tiles.

Tim: Yeah, I’ve seen those even though I’m not super into the Pinteresty stuff. I feel like that could be worthwhile.

I wanted to tell you, I did this for probably five or six years in a row. I teach high school and I have to teach everything: drawing, painting, print making, ceramics, sculpture, everything. What I did was, every summer I would try and learn a new technique or try and get better at a certain technique. One summer I decide, you know what? I’m going to dedicate myself to throwing on the wheel and I got really good at throwing on the wheel.

The next summer I’m like, “I need to learn how to do glass fusion.” Now I figured out how to do glass in my kiln. Then the next summer I’m like, “my water color skills need some development.” So I work on that all summer. I feel like focusing on a different thing each summer really made me a little bit better, a little bit more well rounded teacher.

Is that goal for you? To bring a lot back to your classroom? Or is it more of a happy accident like if you find something you really like, you bring it back? Or is that a focus for you?

Alecia: I feel like even though we’re in summer mode, I’m always thinking about what I can bring back to my classroom and how I can benefit my students. As you were saying that I’m was like, “Oh my gosh. My goal this summer is to get more tech stuff going on.” We just got Chromebooks for our upper grades and I want to be able to incorporate a lot more tech and digital art with them. That was definitely on my list. Thanks for the awesome reminder.

Tim: Thanks. All right. Good. I’d hate for you to forget about that. With the wedding and all.

What’s up next? What’s number three on the list?

Alecia: Three, it kind of goes along, learn something new.

Tim: Okay. Cool. Now if you’re talking learn something new, are you talking about grad classes or other sorts of PD, professional development? Go for it. What do you go?

Alecia: Yeah. Anything and everything. I’m super excited. I am going to be taking a watercolor painting class with one of my colleagues who is not artsy so that’s going to be a really fun learning experience. Like you said, I’m really want to improve my watercolor skills as something I want to work on this summer. Also, PD, grad classes, I always try to squeeze an Art of Ed grad class and then obviously the summer conference, Art Ed Now, is coming up.

I always love learning from all the different people in the classes and also the different presenters at the conferences. I’m always open to new learning experiences, as well.

Tim: Nice. I like that. I’m going to use you for our AOE summer classes commercial right now. Guys, sign up, All of our courses are offered every month and they all start on the first of the month, so if you guys want to get in for July go ahead and sign up as soon as you can.

I’m going to ask you though, Alecia. What has been your favorite AOE course that you’ve taken?

Alecia: Oh my gosh. That’s the hardest question I think that I’ve ever been asked. Truthfully, and it sounds so gimmicky, but every class that I’ve taken, everything that I learn in that class is so immediately applicable to my classroom life that it’s hard to pick. I would say the biggest and most impactful class that I’ve had on my professional life and teaching career and how my art room flows is actually the classroom management class.

I don’t think that I would be where I am right now with my kids and with the rest of the Classroom Management stuff if it wasn’t for that class. If I couldn’t get a handle on my routines and functioning.

I would say the most eye opening was obviously the Choice-Based one. I loved that one.

Tim: Nice. Cool. I love the Classroom Management class. I love teaching that one and I feel like teachers get so much out of that. They can bring so much back to their classroom with that. It’s very practical.

Anyway. We have a big list to get through.

Alecia: Oh gosh, yes.

Tim: I know. You’re excited about this. What is number four?

Alecia: Number four is, work.

Tim: Oh. Okay. That sounds scary because it’s summertime. Are we working on school stuff? Do we have a second job? Are we volunteering? Do you have stuff around the house that we’re doing? What are you thinking here?

Alecia: To give you a little background, my fiance and I were long distance for quite a few years. All of a sudden last summer, our logistics finally aligned, we have jobs in the same state, we have jobs within a half hour of each other, we got engaged, we got a house. A lot of that work has been and will be this summer, personal stuff: house, then the wedding, and living together and figuring that out, and keeping our yard looking nice.

I always seek out professional opportunities so I will probably do quite a bit of work for my classroom and what I want to get ready for the next fall. It’s such a great opportunity because you don’t have to schedule your time. You might have to throughout the school year. You can actually work on it a little bit, maybe go outside, take a walk, work in the garden, and then come back in and work a little bit.

I like the freedom of the schedule to work on my wants and needs.

Tim: Yeah. I like that. As much as we love to talk about all the fun stuff that we do over the summer, so many teachers, let’s face it, are working on school stuff all the time. It’s kind of what we do.

Alecia: Yeah.

Tim: On a side note, I wanted to tell you that when you’re talking about your fiance and you say, “Our logistics finally aligned” that’s like the least romantic thing I’ve ever heard.

Alecia: The stars finally aligned. We were waiting for fate to bring us together.

Tim: But instead it’s just a better job in the right place. Yeah. We’re good to go.

Alecia: Yes, and the right time and really wanting and working towards it.

Tim: Nice. All right. Let me have number five on your list.

Alecia: Ooo, yes. One of my favorite things, hit up a summer arts festival.

Tim: Yes! I actually wrote an article last summer on “How to Be Inspired by a Summer Arts Festival.”

Alecia: Oh yeah.

Tim: Tell me about the Des Moines art festival.

Alecia: Oh. What can I tell you? I feel like I’m a kid in a candy shop when I go to, well, any art festival but really the Des Moines art festival because there is something special about it being your hometown, your home city. There’s people you see, there’s vendors you recognize and if you go back year after year, you kind of built that (not that they actually recognize you but you like to think so) recognition with the artists and vendors and companies.

We actually have the opportunity to display student work with the Des Moines art center at the summer arts festival so it’s really special to see our kids work and have so many people view our kids work, as well. Last year, you could print your t-shirts all about making art, and I was like the fan girl of that tent. It’s pretty awesome. I mean, any summer arts festival, big or small, go fill your bucket.

Tim: Absolutely. I really don’t think you can go wrong with that because here in Omaha, they do a great student show also and they have really good sponsorship and kids make a ton of money off that show. They just love it. I think it’s great to get those kids down there. It’s a draw for them. Then they realize how cool this art festival is and you get this whole new generation of younger people coming in and visiting this arts festival.

Once you go to one, you’re going to keep going. It’s just that cool. I love that one.

Alecia: I think that we should probably do a summer arts festival exchange then.

Tim: Let’s do it. Yes.

Alecia: Maybe I should go to the Omaha one and you should come to Des Moines and then we can compare and contrast or just have really great times at both.

Tim: I think we need to just rent a van and do a Mid-West tour of summer arts festivals.

Alecia: Tour de Summer Arts Festivals. I love it. I digress.

Tim: I was just going to say, you’re getting married this year but let’s plan it for next year.

Alecia: Oh yeah.

Tim: Okay cool. It’s on tap. Let’s do it. Lastly, number six. What is your final big tip for making the most of your summer?

Alecia: Let we kind of mentioned earlier, it’s hard for us as teachers who are always on the go, to actually relax and recharge. It’s so essential for ourselves, and for our students, and for our families, to actually take that time to relax, recharge, do something for you, and in the words of one of my favorite tv shows, “Treat yo’self.”

Maybe splurge a little here and there on relaxing and recharging. Really take that time for you because we do have it and while it’s good to spend your summer catching up and working on stuff to get ahead, we really need to take that time for ourselves.

Tim: Yeah. That’s perfect. All right. I was going to add a whole bunch but you said it perfectly so we’re going to leave it right there. Alecia, thank you very much for joining me and sharing with everybody your six magnificent tips for making the most of your summer. We’ll talk to you soon.

Alecia: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Tim.

Tim: There you have it. Some awesome tips from Alecia on what you can do to make the most of your summer.

Like I said, we’re not all going to have the opportunity that Holly Bess had to travel abroad and experience some amazing art and amazing culture and be able to bring that back to our colleagues and our classrooms. Everybody can do something with their summer. Like Alecia and I talked about. Even if you’re just making some art in order to make art or maybe you’re making art to come up with ideas to take back to your classroom. Maybe you’re spending time in your classroom working on what’s coming for next year. Making yourself a better teacher.

All of those things are worthwhile. Even if you’re not working on school or you’re not working on art, do something that’s going to help you relax. Something that is going to help you recharge. Read those books that you’ve had to put away for a while. Just go sit in your backyard. Pet your cat. Take your dog for a run. Whatever you need to do to relax and recharge and come back next year as a better teacher.

Do something that’s going to help because like I said in the intro, you don’t want to find yourself two months from now sitting at school in your in-service wondering, “What happened to my summer?” Get out there and do something. Do anything that’s worthwhile. Don’t miss that chance to make the most of your summer.

Art Ed Radio is developed, produced, and supported by the Art of Education with audio engineering by Michael Crocker.

Please subscribe to Art Ed Radio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. You can also find us at where we put up the show notes and some great articles about everything you can do this summer. New episodes are released every Tuesday so we’ll see you then.

As always, thank you for listening. Now go enjoy your summer.

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.