Staying productive, relaxing and blooming in the summer as a teacher

You can listen to the podcast version of this blog post here.

Warm and hot summer hues wash over me as the school year ends and vacation begins. It’s time to, as Zainab has said, to “bloom.” This summer, I will be practicing self-care to recuperate from another year of stressful (but this time, I would dare say, successful) full time teaching, but still staying productive in harnessing my English teaching skills and maintaining my blog and new podcast.

Staying Productive

Since high school and up to the year 2020, my summers have always been a time of mostly self-indulgence, as described in one of my recent blog posts reflecting on Theafroeducator’s teacher type quiz and self-care resources. I would make ambitious goals, but would always just end up letting them slip out of my hands, from staying up late watching Youtube videos or Asian dramas, to sleeping in the next morning very late and repeating the cycle of just binging on the internet world once more. The only productive and meaningful activity that I have done during these summers was traveling to China on a mission trip to teach English with my church for about 2.5 to 3 weeks and teaching at my church’s 2 week summer camp right before the new school year starts again. The trips were always very intensive and stressful because of the constant traveling and whole-day serving.

Because of the pandemic, our church have paused on our China trips. This has opened up my time to teach a short English class for a Christian non-profit organization’s summer camp for incoming 9th graders. It would only be one hour and fifteen minutes, Monday to Thursday, for four weeks, which is not as labor intensive. For the past two years, this summer camp was on Zoom. This summer, it will be in person. In addition to teaching these short summer English classes, I will also be tutoring my cousin in English two times a week.

I recently discovered that my paycheck as a teacher covers 10 months of work, not the full year. Teachers are not paid over the summer. I always wondered why my paychecks were a little smaller over the summer months, when I thought I requested to spread my teaching salary over the course of 12 months. Before getting my first paychecks and looking at them more carefully, I always thought being a teacher was “salary” based, but we are paid by the hour we are at school, despite working overtime to plan and grade outside of school hours. Because of this, I know that there are teachers who take on a second job, like teaching summer school, to cover their living expenses. Despite this, I never sign up for summer school at my district, even though I would be paid more the Christian non-profit summer camp’s English teacher position and private tutoring. I am too burned out from the actual school year to continue teaching, planning, and commuting.

There’s a popular meme quote that floats around Pinterest and Instagram that perfectly captures this sentiment:

Teachers get summers off because they do a year’s worth of work in 10 months.

— Pinterest , Instagram, BoredTeachers, Weareteachers

Taking on a less labor intensive and laid back teaching gig where I will be working closer to home and a different demographic of students is my form of self-care, while still making a little bit of money on the side. It is more relaxing, but still productive all at the same time.

Relaxing

And this year, I will be truly relaxing, because my husband and I will be going to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park next week as an extension of our honeymoon from last year and as a celebration of our 1 year anniversary! Last year, we did not have as much time as we wanted for our honeymoon. It will be our first time ever staying overnight at the Disneyland Resort, and I am beyond excited.

In addition to this fun little 2 day trip, I will be going to a salon for the very first time in my life. Growing up, I always got my hair cut by family or a family friend. I even booked a makeup appointment at Sephora for the first time. I’m not really a person who really cares too much my appearance, as I have shared in my blog post about students asking about my skincare routine. I do not have time in the morning before work to use any form of makeup or style my hair extensively. So, treating myself to a little “makeover” makes me feel little self-conscious and vulnerable, but it will be a fun experiment to see how I can change up my appearance for my anniversary. I am hoping to also learn more about myself from the hairstylist an makeup artist.

Putting on makeup and spending a lot of money on appearances were “taboo” or forbidden for me growing up. In addition, the amount of money you need to spend to look good all the time puts me off. Despite these mixed feelings, I became more open to all this when preparing for my wedding last year. Instead of feeling uneasy about makeup, I became excited and curious. I look forward to relaxing into some makeup transformation.

Blooming on

I am certain that some may view my summer plans as not too relaxing or maybe too productive. I have been called a workaholic by some and lazy by another. But to me, this summer is somewhere in between, and that’s enough for me.

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