Three Ways You Can Keep the Responsive Classroom Approach Front and Center While Still Enjoying Your Summer
How do educators spend their summer break? If you’re anything like me, you’re spending your summer trying to balance relaxation, quality time with family and friends, personal goals, and maybe even some professional development. Whether I’m in relaxation mode or skimming a professional text, I regularly find myself drifting into long thoughts about activities to try next school year or making a mental to-do list for the first weeks of school. When I start thinking about school in the middle of the summer, I like to have a place to set those thoughts aside until I’m ready to use them. Here are some ways you can channel your brainstorms and plans for next year so that you can both enjoy your summer break and, when the school year arrives, keep the Responsive Classroom approach front and center from the first day of school.
Identify a Clear Goal
One way you can prepare is by identifying a clear goal for next year. Start by considering why you have chosen to be a Responsive Classroom educator:
- Why did you take the Responsive Classroom course?
- Why have you invested in Responsive Classroom resources?
- What benefits have you and your colleagues experienced?
Goals to improve your teaching practice this upcoming school year could include: a strong sense of belonging within your classroom, smoother routines and procedures, reliable strategies for responding to off-task behavior, increased academic engagement, or anything you find your thoughts drawn toward. This summer, avoid getting distracted by all of your ideas and instead remind yourself to focus on your one, big goal.
Consider Your Resources
Locate resources that will support your goals for next year . . . then put them away!
- If you have attended a Responsive Classroom course, find your resource book and other course resources. (You can also download fresh copies of course planning documents.)
- If you are an elementary teacher, make sure to find your copy of The First Six Weeks of School. I reread the relevant sections of this book before school starts every year and have for the last twelve years! (Middle school teachers can check out Building an Academic Community for a guide to the first four weeks of school.)
- Look into the Empowering Educators series. These books in this series can be read from cover to cover, or you can just read the sections that connect to your goals for the year.
Having these resources set aside and waiting for you when you return to the classroom in the next month or so might be all you need to give your planning a much-deserved pause for the rest of the summer.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Document your thinking now so you can access it when you return to the classroom. Keep your goal at the top of your page or document and connect your notes to it. Here are some ways you can record your summer thoughts without disrupting your relaxation time:
- Keep a written or digital document to collect ideas, strategies, resources, quotes, and anything else related to your goal for the fall.
- My teammates and I text each other “ideas for August” as a way to document our summer thinking without the pressure of planning or organizing those ideas until we return in the fall.
- Talk to yourself! I’ve been trying out voice memos recently and I imagine sending voice memos to myself this summer so I can capture my thoughts now to save for the fall.
Being a Responsive Classroom educator means you are constantly moving through cycles of reflection, goal-setting, and planning. While you might not be able to stop yourself from preparing for next school year right now, if you, like me, are still trying to savor summer break, give these ideas a try!
Julia Monke is a consulting teacher for Center for Responsive Schools and a first grade teacher in Minneapolis.