5 Things Every Educator Should Do This Summer

John Norlin · June 5, 2018


Another school year has passed and educators once again are looking forward to the days of being able to sleep past six in the morning, go to the bathroom whenever they want, and actually eat lunch instead of cramming it into a three minute window right before class begins again. Summer is an important time for so many to rejuvenate, continue to learn more about the subject(s) they teach, and reflect and make adjustments so that they can better serve their new students the following year. Here are five things we recommend every educator does this summer.

Immediately take Airborne or Zicam the first 1-2 weeks after finishing school.

How many times as an educator have you gotten sick within days of starting an extended break? Doesn’t it feel like as soon as your body slows down it says, “Something is wrong!” and BOOM here comes the two week cold. Just like with classroom management, let’s be proactive and take that Airborne or Zicam immediately to help ward off that famous start of break bug!

Read a book for work to stay sharp because you finally have a little time to do so.

It is so refreshing to dig into a good book during an extended break and learn more about your subject area, a new topic of interest, or even just for pleasure. If you are not someone who usually can dig into a good old hardback novel, you should check out Audible from Amazon. I have been able to go through more books listening on 2.0 speed then any previous year. Here are some book recommendations for you this summer.

  • The Servant by James C. Hunter
  • The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle by James C. Hunter
  • The Culture by James C. Hunter
  • The Road to Character by David Brooks
  • The Power of Moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  • The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company by Joseph A. Michelli
  • Above the Line: Lessons in Leadership and Life from a Championship Season by Wayne Coffey & Urban Meyer
  • Legacy by James Kerr
  • Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin
  • How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain by Thomas Lickona
  • Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World by Michele Borba
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Sleep in for the first few days (if you can) but then start waking up at the same time every morning and do something you normally would never get to do when you are rushing to get to school.

Recently I read a great article from Business Insider about retired Navy Seal Jocko Willink that included a great video interview. Jocko spoke about how since leaving the Navy SEALs he would stay disciplined by getting up every morning at 4:30am to get a jump start on the day. He commented, "Just on a practical side, if you wake up early in the morning — like at 4:30 in the morning — you're going to have some free time to yourself to make things happen, to take care of things that are important to you." As much as 4:30am sounds extremely difficult to do, I love the idea of getting a jump start on your day and doing things that you normally never get to do because of the busy nature of life and work. 

Plan something to look forward to once a week for the entire summer.

What I have learned over my career in education is that when you give yourself something to look forward to it makes things so much more fun! Whether it is big or small, create a fun list of things to do this summer! Here are a few suggestions for your to start the brainstorm. Create your own list and then intentionally calendar out week to week so you can see things coming up.

  • Plan out intentional full day Netflix binge watching of your favorite shows
  • Get a massage on a random day or schedule an appointment with the chiropractor to figure out why that pain won’t go away in your neck!
  • Schedule regular shorts and flip flop days just because you want to.
  • Take a nap in the middle of the day, under the sun, instead of under the famous fluorescent lights of the school building.
  • Setup a dinner date with friends on a Friday night instead of cancelling because you can’t keep your eyes open.
  • Go for a walk and not worry about anyone else but yourself!
  • Plan a zero traffic day, like don’t drive anywhere at all and enjoy the fact that you didn’t have to deal with that.
  • Be a tourist in your nearest city or park! Go at a time when rush hour isn't a problem, because you can!

Commit to something hard this summer so you can share with your students next year.

While attending the National Character Lab Conference hosted by founder Angela Duckworth, she shared how she helps foster grit in her own family. She spoke how they implemented a process called “The Hard Thing Rule” which has three parts. First, everyone in the family has to do something that is hard. Second, you have to finish what you start. Third, no one gets to pick the hard rule for anyone else. What a cool idea to start with my own family. After you pick your hard thing for the summer that requires practice, feedback on how you are doing to get better, and the grit to keep going after that hard thing you have selected, you will now have a great example and most likely stories to share with your students this next school year. Read more about the hard rule.


John Norlin

John Norlin is a Co-Founder of CharacterStrong, a Servant Leadership trainer, and motivational speaker. He was Washington Advisor of the Year, taught 5 leadership classes per semester for 10 years at Sumner High School, and was a Program Administrator for the Whole Child for five years.