Everybody thinks teachers have the easiest job because they get summers off. Those of us in the schools know that this is far from the truth. Yes, teachers have the summer “off”, but that just means they aren’t getting paid, not that they aren’t working.
Some teachers use their summer months to rework curriculum, revamp assessments, or update their classroom decor. Others decide to utilize their summer months to work towards their Master’s Degree in Education–teacher by trade, student by summer.
Sure, being a teacher can be highly satisfying. You know that each day you spend in your classroom results in changing students’ lives. But you still need downtime during June, July and August to recharge and prepare for the coming year. So how can you optimize your free time during the summer if you’re working toward your M.Ed. on top of all your other responsibilities?
Here are 4 ways to make the most of your summer while working toward your Master’s Degree in Education.
1. Know your M.Ed. program requirements
Each program is created differently and has its own required components. Some M.Ed. programs only offer courses during the summer months, whereas others are year-round. Your program might require you to be on campus for part of the time, others are completely online.
Before summer arrives, meet with your adviser and see what you’ll be doing over the summer. Will your classes be reading or writing-intensive? Do you need to have a certain number of internships or experience hours? The more you know early, the fewer surprises there will be later–no one wants surprise assignments the week before school starts back up.
2. Make yourself a schedule
Start the summer with a schedule of what you want to accomplish. Sit down with your course syllabi and map everything out. When are your big projects, papers, and exams? Maybe if there’s a lighter week, in terms of reading and assignments, you can take a mini-vacation.
The more you can schedule out, the less likely you are to fall behind. If you have something fun planned for the middle of summer and will need to take some time off from your coursework, try scheduling your assignments a bit ahead of time. Self-paced classes are both a blessing and a beast. You can either crank it all out and have time to spare, or procrastinate and rush it all at the end. Setting up a schedule or timeline for yourself can help with that.
3. Become a regular
Find your place! Figure out where it is that you are most productive, whether it’s a local coffee shop, library, deli, or other nooks in the community. But when you pick your place, make sure that it isn’t somewhere you’re going to run into every single one of your students’ parents. Pick somewhere you’ll be able to focus and minimize distractions.
Try making this part of your routine that you enjoy. Homework during the summer isn’t super exciting, so try a new place. That way, when you walk through the door, you’re there to work but not dreading it.
4. Balance your work/studying with fun
After you’ve set up your schedule and mapped out your summer, plan something fun! You’re working hard during your months “off” so reward yourself.
If you’re the kind of person that can stay focused and get ahead when working on assignments, try packing your schedule. Perhaps you’ll have time for a mini summer break after you’ve completed your coursework. Or, if you’re like me and procrastinate for a living, space your assignments out and fill the gaps with fun things to keep you motivated.
At the end of the day, you’ve already gotten your Bachelor’s. You know how you work as a student, and you know what it takes to be successful in the classroom–you’re a teacher after all.