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What NOT to do in the Summer as an International Teacher

Last summer was a horribly beautiful learning experience. Learning can sometimes be like that, it doesn't feel good. Often it comes from making mistakes.

I used to think summer is the ideal time to see all the docs, practice yoga, some good PD, loose 5 pounds, visiting family, clean my apartment, play my ukulele, go to the beach. Now I think that my expectations were too high!

Being a teacher overseas comes with this image of being so worldly and having traveled so much. And it's true, you learn to live as other people do and see things that so many never can. However, I've forgotten to pace myself! Year after year, on repeat. There is so much to see and experiences to be had, but not enough time. Life is too short!

Last summer went something like this...

2 weeks at home in Berlin | A few days with friends visiting from out of town but mostly doing the things I love... creating classroom resources for the Our Yellow Bench shop, attempting to play the ukulele, walking, running, cycling, yoga, drinking coffee with my husband. But I had this itch... I felt like I was wasting my summer by not doing something. I live in Europe, there is so much to see and do!

at home in berlin, ubahn, playing ukulele, polka dot trees, bus stop in berlin, checkpoint charlie


2 weeks all over Italy | Maybe it would have felt like a real holiday if we'd have stayed in one place, put our feet up a bit or slept in. That didn't happen though! Four cities and about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of walking a day, I honestly just wanted to go back to school 😩 ...just imagine! And while the sights of Italy were breathtaking and made us feel like we had a time machine throughout history, we couldn't wait to get back to our quiet and peaceful Germany. We mostly missed all the rules about quiet hours.. yes, this really exists and I am so grateful for it!

From Berlin to all over Italy, berlin train station, turino balcony, small alley in florence


4 days at home | I've loved our home since we moved in, but never more than after Italy 😂 However, I was there only long enough to wash the laundry, half clean and repack. I felt so excited about heading to New York as it's been two years since I've seen my family but... I also didn't want to go at all. The summer had barely begun, but I felt defeated.

Back home for a second: printing, yoga, packing, berlin


3 weeks in New York | Everything a girl could hope for! Family time, cooking together, barbecues, games in the yard, fighting with sisters, hugging parents. But the lingering image of my new classroom in the back of my mind PLUS a full week of all-day professional development on Writer's Workshop from The Teacher's College followed by yet another workshop on Visible Thinking Routines. 🤪

collage of traveling in new york, Jamaica station, shopping, JFK airport, kayaking


Each moment of last summer was something to cherish. Sadly, I am not sure how many intricate special things I have already forgotten, not giving myself the time to truly live through them, enjoy and reflect on life as it was happening.

What happened to living in the present? I seem to have lost touch with a few of the most important things I learned and mastered once upon a time in the Peace Corps.

When I finally got home, I not only moved classrooms, but also apartments. Both moves were well worth it! I adore my new, sunshiny bright classroom AND have finally found the perfect quintessential European apartment (pretty much a near-impossible task in Berlin).

Fast forward up to now and I tell you, this coming holiday, I'm going to try not doing anything! Not doing anything might include still needing to visit my family in the USA, attending something else from The Teacher's College (how can I resist?? ) and mostly riding my bicycle around this beautiful city that I live in, Berlin. Fingers crossed that I won't have to move classrooms again - it feels a bit like moving house!

Somehow, I need to find a way to make all of these things feel a little more like self care than burn out.

A few ways I can make my next school break, busy yet relaxing:

  • Take a self-paced PD or in-person workshop rather than 5 full days straight in a virtual workshop (which teacher needed that right smack in the middle of a pandemic? 🙄)

  • Schedule a little more time in Berlin and shorter trips everywhere else - I'm the scheduling type. I need to make intentional time for it to be prioritized.

  • Let my friends and family come to me once I arrive in the US rather than riding trains and busses all over New York State and beyond

end of year student awards, coloring page awards, mindful coloring for students

Maybe I'm just getting older and my former adventurous self is settling down into a creature of habit, routines and seeking rest at all opportunities. I can no longer keep up with all of my ambitions, and perhaps that is good for once.

I'm ready to let this school year be over! Ready to say goodbye to my students for now (with these truly awesome mindful coloring page awards) and share some big hugs.

Then I'll shifting gears this summer, at least that's my plan. 😉 Happy mindful coloring with your students and summer planning. Stay safe and y'all!

💛 Sativa

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