Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What Teachers Should Do in the Summer, Part III

This summer was very different for our family than last summer.  Here is what I learned this summer.  

1.  Back up all your computer stuff.
I am not the queen of technology.  We got an iPhone 4 for about $30 when we renewed our cell phone contract.  I managed to call the same person three days in a row -- on accident.  
When yet another computer crashed on me I was in the midst of trying to save valuable photos and data.  I lost a lot of it.  I don’t think I can retrieve it.  I have to do all that work all over again.  I should have backed it up.  From now on, this one is for sure on my list.
2.  Interview other teachers.  There were two who were especially inspiring to me.  One is a fantastic organizer.  I needed help with my schedule and not putting “too much on my plate”.  She really helped me get a better picture of how my time is best spent.  I have time-saving ideas I would have NEVER thought of on my own.  
The second teacher I “interviewed” had some wonderful art and planned spontaneity ideas.  You can see the post on his school coming soon. 

3.  Broaden your horizons.  Get out of your comfort zone.
If we are not “filling our buckets” in the summer by learning new skills, broadening the depth of the skills we already have, and gleaning new ideas from other sources, then we won’t have much new to offer our students when school starts in the fall.  Here is how we happened to spend our summer doing this.

We attended Shenandoah Music Camp as a family.  (We do love to teach, but family comes first.)  My husband and I sang in chamber choir, our two youngest children sang in the children’s choir, and our older son sang in a resident choir.  We thought maybe we were too old to go, but we loved it and plan to go back again next year.  

We spent almost six weeks in Lancaster while my hubby taught theory, music history, and music appreciation at Shenandoah Institute of Music and Art (SIMA). (For more information on SIMA visit  One of our older sons took classes and one of our daughters helped in the kitchen.  That left me with two boys “camping” out for a lot of time away from home.   Before I went partially insane, I decided I better make a plan-- fast.   There was too much valuable time to waste.  So here is what I did during those weeks.
We went and had dinner a few times week at the institute.  (They make it very family-friendly and we were invited.)

We planned a party for the teachers and students.  I spent time in thrift shops looking for props and needed accessories.

I read books and wrote study questions for the Anabaptist history course I am teaching next year.  (I better remember to back up those files!)

We did touristy stuff.  We rode the Strasburg Railroad.

We went to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm and enjoyed the tractor ride and history lesson during it, the large slide, the animals, and the CORN MAZE.  They even did a clever play on words and called it a Corn Maize Maze. Here’s my plug for a corn maze.  I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to one of these and they do a great job.  There are three different levels depending on how long you want to stay in, how many clues you want to find etc.  It was absolutely fabulous, even though we got off-track and took the same wrong turn three times in a row.  We ran out of time, but I would have loved to spend a whole day in there.  If you haven’t been to a corn maze yet, I recommend you do so.    It was fabulous.  

I went to my favorite quilt and craft store, the Old Country Store.  
We traveled to town and spent a few hours in the North Museum.  It is on a college campus and the basement has the most wonderful collection of birds, rocks, fossils and minerals I’ve ever seen.  They even had a display to show how they mount the birds.  And the curiosity drawer was most interesting.  If you’ve never seen a two-headed goat, open the next-to-the-bottom drawer on the right side.  

We applied and were accepted for membership in the Oasis Chorale.  Now, my husband has three music degrees and I do not.  I have been around music all my life and I do love to sing, but this was a stretch for me.  (Remember the “get out of your comfort zone” part?)  It was a fabulous weekend.  I learned a lot and am looking forward to more time spent with teachers, artists, and musicians.  These people are great company.
We attended the Anabaptist Orchestra Camp.  Again, great company, great music, great times.  


So, there was our summer.  

One more plug for human decency.  In our culture, it seems as if society is degrading.  Almost every time I leave my home I see or hear something that upsets me, or that I do not want my children to see or hear.  There are two ways I deal with this.  

I try not to focus on the negative, but if my children do see something vile and ask about it I do my best to explain the situation so that they cannot only just understand it, but also so that they can see things from that person’s perspective, and from God’s perspective as well.  

Secondly, we must try to avoid an “entitlement” mentality.  I don’t deserve anything.  I need to be appreciative and grateful.  I try to set a good example for my children and “give back” whenever and however I can.  
Several times this summer I thanked the cooks and the instructors, did the dishes, helped cook, picked up trash in the bathroom, typed tests for my husband, helped plan a special dinner, and did science experiments one night for the children.  I encouraged my children to take out the trash for the cooks, play with the older children, and help baby-sit the younger ones.  We cannot have a “serve me” attitude, even if we are paying to attend these events.  We need to give back as well.