A Teacher’s Summer - Plans, Relaxation, & Bucket Lists

As we approach the end of the school year, I occasionally hear from people on social media or out in the real world who are not in the education world about teachers and their relaxing three-month vacation.  I thought this would be a good time to share out my summer plans and give some insight into what one teacher’s summer will look like:


Yes, I do plan on taking a break from my work life for a little bit at the start, but that isn’t to say I won’t be working on getting better as a teacher.  I’ve got several plans related to my profession that I’m going to tackle this summer, though I expect I might not get to all of them.


First, I joined a summer book club about Standards-Based Grading to help improve my practice and implementation, so reading is definitely a big part of my summer. I try to make sure I get at least one new education book read before I return to school so that my mind can be filled with new ideas to implement in the classroom and I can set out for some new summits.  Last year, I didn’t quite finish my education book, Be Real by Tara Martin, but I did finish it by October, and then managed to finish Make Learning Magical by Tisha Richmond last month. Below are the books I plan on trying to finish before school resumes in August:

Rethinking Grading by Cathy Vatterott

What We Know About Grading by Thomas R. Guskey & Susan M. Brookhart

Grading from the Inside Out by Tom Schimmer

Edrenaline Rush by John Meehan

I also want to be sure I take some time for reading pleasure and being a history & all around nerd, I’ve got two other books I’m in the middle of as we speak:

In the Hurricane’s Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin

Coaching & Classroom Work

Second, I do still have a football camp to coach at the first week of June, so I won’t be gone from the building for long before I’m right back at it.  I also want to spend some time redecorating my classroom and making sure it’s in great shape when I get back to it in August, so I’ll likely be working on that early on this summer as well.

Educator Growth and Game Development

Finally, I’m headed back to Summer Spark to learn & grow even more as an educator.  I previously wrote about my experience this past summer, and I’m thrilled to get to return this year!  There are a TON of great sessions this year, so I’ve got my notebook & laptop ready to fill up with new sparkly ideas! (See what I did there?)  I also am working on game redesign for my class, with some elements from this past year going away, and others being retooled, along with creating a game manual to help my students better understand how the game works.


All that said, I do plan on taking some time to relax, because it’s always important to remember self-care.  Katie and I are headed to Boston & Acadia National Park for a nice 10 day vacation of history, whale-watching, and getting a bit lost in the woods.  We always try to visit a national park each summer to reconnect with the outdoors and hike a few trails. Thanks to the flight to Boston, I’ll have some time for some of that reading I mentioned earlier.

Education Bucket List

I can’t come up with a better term for this, so for now I’ll call it an EdBucketList.  Basically, I started making note of the various things I wanted to do as an educator beyond what I do in my classroom.  Some of them I’ve already accomplished, and I’ll likely keep adding more as I grow as an educator, but here’s my list so far:

  • Attend an EDcamp event (Check! Did that this past Spring at EDCampJOCO!)

  • Attend USM Summer Spark (Check! Did that last summer!)

  • Present at USM Summer Spark (SURPRISE! I get to do that this year, as I present about Summit Seeking!)

  • Meet my DBC & Education Author Heroes (Not complete yet, but I’ve got a good start!)

    • Quinn Rollins (Met at MCSS last Spring)

    • George Couros (Met at Turner Convocation a couple of years ago)

    • Michael Matera & Aaron Hogan (Met at USM Summer Spark last year)

    • Tara Martin (Met at EDCampJOCO this Spring)

    • Joy Kirr

    • Tisha Richmond

    • Paul Solarz

    • Wade & Hope King

    • Adam Welcome & Todd Nesloney

    • Dave & Shelley Burgess

    • Ron Clark

    • Rick Wormeli

  • Start a blog (Check!)

  • Write a book about Summit Seeking (SURPRISE! Working on this now!)

I’m sure more will be added as time goes by, but that’s a great start for now.  My challenge for you is to create your own EdBucketList.

Share out what your summer plans are and don’t worry if it involves A LOT of relaxation.  You’ve earned it, as this job is a full-body workout every day, so take time to recover and enjoy the time to recuperate.  We need to be back on as soon as the year starts up, so take of yourselves!

Summit Seeker(s) of the Week: Special Bonus this week as we shout out THREE(!) amazing educators I’ve learned from: Sharon Pedroja, Sharon Senger, and my mom, Micki Stephans. Sharon Pedroja was my 2nd grade teacher at Beech Elementary School in Wichita, and I absolutely loved her class!  Learning was fun everyday and I was always excited to be there! I remember lessons about recycling (always have to cut those plastic can rings so animals don’t get stuck!), and whales (we even adopted one as a class!).  Mostly I remember being valued in her class as a person and that I knew that I was going to learn something amazing every day. Sharon Senger has been like a second mom to me and my brother. Sharon is a retired elementary reading teacher whose passion for education is astounding! Her focus has always been on helping students not only read, but to enjoy reading for the sake of reading!  Her example as an educator is one I strive to emulate in my classroom, because I want my students to love learning for its own sake, not learn something simply because it is being tested! Lastly, my mom, who taught not only the kindergarten class at our church, but also made sure that our family vacations were filled with chances to experience not only the wonder of nature, but also to learn history, science, and countless other subjects through adventurous journeys across the country.  My love for history is a direct reflection of her influence, and I wouldn’t be the teacher I am without all three of these amazing educators! Thank you to all of you!