Summer Thoughts: Making ME Better

Carrie LaRueBlog, Self Care Better


  • It’s about what makes me better; it’s not about what makes others better.
  •  Don’t compare yourself to others. Just because something is good for someone else doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Making ME Better

Full disclosure: I really like social media. I appreciate the teacher groups with which I engage on Facebook and Twitter (I have found Instagram isn’t my love…). I enjoy hearing how others have addressed and solved concerns in a classroom that are very similar to mine; I’ve appreciated advice I have received when I asked. In many ways, it’s encouraging to discover I am not the only person experiencing something. With Twitter, especially, I appreciate the positive quotes, the statements that make me think and question. Often, these pieces get discussed with my teaching team and family.

The problem I’ve noted, though, comes when there’s a lack of understanding of individuality. This has become particularly clear to me as school ends and summer break begins. I don’t know whether I’m particularly sensitive to it because of my experiences or because of the amount of negativity, but I think we need to address it.

Do what is best for you, your family, your circumstances. Don't be someone else. Some of the things I get done in the summer are not tasks I enjoy, but they do make me better. Click To Tweet

We all are in different places in our lives.

I just finished year 20 of teaching. For some people, this might mean they are in their early 40s. I’m a 2nd career teacher. I’m in my late 50s. It isn’t the number of years one has taught that determines stage of life. It is one’s personal circumstances that determine that. And just as the years teaching doesn’t mean our lives are the same, neither does our age. We each are facing different realities.

Because of these individual realities, we have to do what is best for us. Just because it is good for someone else does not mean it is good for us. And conversely, we need to realize because it’s what makes us happy does not mean it will make others happy.

I live in a somewhat rural area. I have teacher friends who are part of farming families. Summer is crazy with planting, harvest, 4-H farm activities, and more. Their lives are far different from the urban friends I have, who have a neighborhood pool, cultural opportunities (concerts, plays), and recreational opportunities close. Just as we recognize those differences, we have to recognize that what makes us happy on break can be vastly different.

What does this mean for summer break?

It means you do you. Do what is best for you, your family (if they are involved in this decision), your circumstances. Don’t be someone else. Some of the things I get done in the summer are not tasks I enjoy, but they do make me better.

I remember the one year I taught summer school. The next year wasn’t a stellar year for me; I didn’t realize how much the summer reset helps me. My first career was a job where I worked 50 weeks with 2 for vacation. Teaching impacts my brain very differently than that job did. I make a choice to not do summer school now because I’ve learned that about myself. I’m thankful for the people who choose to do it based on their life circumstances.

I also know that I don’t spring clean. I summer clean. My mornings are devoted to those deep cleans my house really wants (we have a dog who has two shedding seasons—March to September and September to March). I’m able to listen to a book while I do that much of the time. Afternoons find me doing counted cross-stitch while catching up on shows I didn’t watch during the school year. Afternoons might also find me reading a book. There’s a strong possibility I’m in the kitchen trying a new recipe or technique I didn’t get to do during the school year.

All those things I’m doing? I have a good friend who would cringe if she had to do them. Her house is spotless all year long. She prefers to read magazines, go for walks with her dog, and do jigsaw puzzles with her husband. We enjoy break very differently; we each do it right for who we are!

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Let’s accept that we all don’t need the same thing.

Our district offers three days of paid professional development after the school year ends. This time is used to reflect on the past year, think about what we want to change (while it’s still fresh) and make some tentative plans. As this time isn’t mandatory, I don’t always attend. This year, our entire team took part as we have new reading material next year. We have a jumpstart on planning for next year. It helps my brain. For some people, this would be the last thing in the world they would want. That’s ok. We don’t all have to do it the same way.

Making Me Better

I’m hitting the halfway mark of my summer break. Some people haven’t begun it at all; others go back in a month. We’re all in different places on time away from the classroom/building. I’m thrilled with what I have accomplished, and I’m thankful for a job that allows me to have this type of break.

Wherever you are on break, I hope you reflect on what it is that will refill who you are (and not WHAT you are). I hope you find some time to do what makes you happy, what works best for you/your family, and makes you better.

Have a wonderful break!

About Carrie LaRue

Carrie LaRue is a second-career teacher at Royster Middle School in Southeast Kansas, where she has the privilege of instructing 8th graders in reading and writing. After a short stint in journalism, she returned to college to earn a certification in education and went on to earn a Master’s in Literacy from the University of Missouri. She is passionate about creating strong relationships with students (#reachbeforeteach) and their families. Her students know she loves to read, cook, travel, and do counted cross-stitch when she isn’t teaching them.