Winter breaks…

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

-Percy Bysshe Shelley
low angle photo of snow field

There are only a few days left before Winter Break for most schools here in the US, and the holiday feelings are already very strong. I’m wrapping up a couple of projects (and another semester of doctoral work) before settling in for a long winter’s nap.

At least, I hope I’m able to get a few naps in 😉

Anyway, here are 10 things I think you might enjoy…

10 Things Worth Sharing

That’s all, folks. Thanks again for hanging out with me on another Friday. I hope you continue to find value in this weekly newsletter.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Falling Into Fall Break

I shared this note with my team on our last day before Fall Break. I hope you find encouragement here, as well.

“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
boy walking on wooden pathway beside plants during day
Photo by Harrison Haines on

Fall Break

You may have already figured this out, but Fall Break is my favorite break of the year. We’ve navigated the busyness of beginning a new school year and made some progress toward our goals. For me, this break comes at the perfect time. The weather cools, mornings begin on the back porch with a cup of coffee, and evenings end with a backyard fire. It’s not so much a break as it is a pause—the deep breath before diving into winter. I need this break. You need this break. We all need a moment away.

Blaise Pascal wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Most adults lead very busy lives. Teachers, arguably more so. Rarely do we have a moment during our day to call our own, even if it means we just have the chance to catch our breath.

During the break, I encourage you to find time to call your own. Amidst all the plans we make for fun and family, find some time to hide away from it all. Forget, for a few moments, the demands of the classroom, of testing, of dealing with parents, and the demands of your administration and coaches.

You need rest. Spirit, soul, and body all need a break from time to time to face this madness we call life.

The great Stoic philosopher Seneca said, “The mind must be given relaxation; it will rise improved and sharper after a good break.” Stephen Covey reminds us of the 7th habit of Highly Effective People to “sharpen your saw.” Make sure to take care of yourself. We all did this pretty well during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I fear we may have lost some of these lessons in our return to the world of deadlines and demands.

Please take time for yourself over the break. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

10 Things Teachers Shouldn’t Do Over the Summer Break

10 Things Teachers Shouldn’t Do Over the Summer Break

Summer break is a time when the school hallways empty and the classrooms quiet down. As a teacher, you’ve probably been eagerly anticipating this time, haven’t you? But remember, this period is not just about taking a breather; it’s also about preparing for the upcoming year in an effective, balanced way. It’s crucial to use this time wisely and avoid some common pitfalls.

Mistake 1: Overplanning for the Next Year

One of the most common mistakes that teachers make is overplanning for the next academic year. While it’s crucial to prepare for the upcoming school year, it’s also important to take breaks and enjoy your summer vacation. Engrossing yourself in textbooks and lesson plans throughout the summer may lead to burnout even before the school year begins. So, how about striking a balance between planning and relaxation? You could use your summer break to explore new hobbies or take a trip to recharge your batteries. Additionally, you could use the time to reflect on your teaching methods and make any necessary improvements. All in all, remember that a well-rested teacher is a better teacher, so don’t forget to take care of yourself!

Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving
  • Headlee, Celeste (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages – 06/01/2021 (Publication Date) – Harmony (Publisher)

Mistake 2: Bringing Work Home

Another common mistake is bringing work home, which can lead to a lack of work-life balance. Sure, there might be some work to do during summer break, but don’t get carried away with it! It’s important to find a balance and not let work take over your whole break. When you bring work home, make sure to have a designated area for it and set a schedule for yourself. This way, you can keep a healthy balance between your work and personal life, and your home can remain a relaxing space for you to recharge.

Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Schulte, Brigid (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 369 Pages – 03/11/2014 (Publication Date) – Sarah Crichton Books (Publisher)

Mistake 3: Ignoring Self-Care

One important mistake to avoid during the summer is neglecting self-care. Teachers give a lot of themselves, so it’s super important to take care of yourself! Don’t forget to prioritize your own well-being. While this can take many forms, there are a few ideas to consider. For example, starting a fitness routine can be a great way to take care of your physical health and relieve stress. Additionally, practicing mindfulness through meditation can help you stay centered and focused. Finally, picking up a new book that isn’t related to work can be a wonderful way to recharge your mind and prevent burnout.

Read More: The Ultimate Summer Self-Care Guide for Teachers: 15 Invaluable Tips

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Mistake 4: Not Setting Personal Goals

Setting personal goals over the summer is a great way to make the most of your time. Not only do goals give you direction and a sense of accomplishment when achieved, they can also help you grow as a person. In fact, there are countless goals you can set for yourself this summer, depending on your interests and aspirations.

For instance, why not consider learning a new language or instrument? Not only can this be a fun and engaging way to spend your time, but it can also enhance your cognitive abilities and open up new avenues of communication. Alternatively, you could set a goal to hike a particular trail or visit a new city. Both of these activities can be great ways to explore the world around you and broaden your horizons.

Of course, setting goals isn’t always easy. It can be difficult to know where to start or how to stay motivated over the long term. However, by breaking your goals down into smaller, more manageable steps, and by tracking your progress along the way, you can make it easier to stay on track and achieve success. So why not take some time to set some personal goals for yourself this summer? You never know where they might take you!

Discipline is Destiny
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ryan Holiday (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 09/06/2022 (Publication Date) – Profile Books (Publisher)

Mistake 5: Not Taking Time for Professional Development

One mistake to avoid is not investing enough time in professional development. While it may seem like a daunting task, dedicating time to enhancing your skills and keeping up with the latest teaching methods is crucial for success in the field of education. There are many ways to do this – for example, you could consider taking a short course or attending a workshop to learn new techniques. Another option is to engage with educational podcasts or blogs to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices. Additionally, you could consider joining a professional organization or networking group to connect with other educators and learn from their experiences. By investing time in your own professional development, you’ll be better equipped to meet the challenges of the ever-changing world of education and provide your students with the best possible learning experience.

Don’t Just Survive, Thrive: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Resilience, Preventing Burnout, and Nurturing Your Love for Teaching (Books for Teachers)
  • Herrboldt, SaraJane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages – 07/25/2023 (Publication Date) – Ulysses Press (Publisher)

Mistake 6: Neglecting Family and Friends

It is important to keep in mind that relationships with family and friends are a key component of our lives, and should not be neglected during the summer months. While it can be tempting to immerse oneself in various activities, it is essential to make time for loved ones and nurture these connections. One way to do this is to plan a family vacation, which can be a great opportunity to create lasting memories and strengthen bonds. Alternatively, visiting friends or even just enjoying a meal together can be a rewarding experience. By taking the time to bond with those closest to us, we can enrich our lives and create meaningful relationships that last a lifetime.

Mistake 7: Not Exploring New Hobbies

Failing to explore new hobbies can be a missed opportunity for personal growth and relaxation. It’s important to remember that trying something new doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Instead, it can be a chance to broaden your horizons and discover new passions. For example, if you’re interested in gardening, you might want to start by learning about different plants and their specific needs. Or, if you’re drawn to painting, you could start by experimenting with different mediums and techniques until you find the style that suits you best. Similarly, if writing sparks your interest, you could start with short stories or poems, and gradually work your way up to longer pieces. Whatever hobby you choose, the key is to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to learn. By doing so, you may find that exploring a new hobby is not only refreshing and fulfilling, but can also lead to new friendships, new experiences, and a deeper sense of self-discovery.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (Austin Kleon)
  • By artist and writer Austin Kleon
  • A collection of positive messages and exercises to realize your artistic side
  • A New York Times Best-seller
  • 10 Things nobody told you about being creative!
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Mistake 8: Avoiding Travel

Avoiding travel is another common mistake. While it is important to take precautions during the pandemic, we should not let fear stop us from experiencing new places and cultures. Traveling broadens our horizons and rejuvenates our minds, allowing us to gain a new perspective on the world around us. Even a short road trip to a nearby city or a hike in a local nature reserve can do wonders for our mental health and overall well-being. Not to mention, supporting local businesses and tourism is more important now than ever before. By taking the necessary safety measures, such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing, we can still enjoy the benefits of travel while keeping ourselves and others safe.

Mistake 9: Skipping Reflection

Failing to take the time to reflect on the past academic year is not only a missed opportunity but also a disservice. Reflection is an essential tool that helps us identify areas of improvement and growth. There are many ways to reflect, such as keeping a journal, meditating, or simply pondering while taking a walk in the park. It is by reflecting on our victories and challenges that we are able to gain a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Through reflection, we are able to see how far we have come, what we need to do to continue growing, and what we need to avoid. Therefore, it is crucial that we make time for reflection and not let the hustle and bustle of daily life take over. So, take a moment to reflect, and you may be surprised at what you discover.

The Art of Talking to Yourself: Self-Awareness Meets the Inner Conversation
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Vironika Tugaleva (Author) – Vironika Tugaleva (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 07/31/2018 (Publication Date) – Soulux Press (Publisher)

Mistake 10: Failing to Recharge

One of the most common mistakes that teachers make is failing to recharge. Being a teacher is tough, both mentally and physically. Don’t forget that during summer break! In order to maintain a high level of productivity and enthusiasm, it is essential to take the time to recharge your batteries. There are plenty of ways to recharge over summer break! You can watch your favorite movies, spend time in nature, or catch up on your sleep. Just make sure you take the time to do things that relax you and fill you with energy, so you’re ready to tackle the new academic year ahead. By taking the time to do things that relax you and fill you with energy, you will be able to approach your work with renewed focus and vigor.

  • Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages – 06/12/2018 (Publication Date) – Basic Books (Publisher)


In conclusion, the summer break is a valuable period that should be utilized wisely. Avoid these common mistakes and ensure a healthy, productive, and rejuvenating break. Remember, you owe it to yourself and your students to come back recharged and ready for the new academic year.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Rethinking & Reviewing

Happy Tuesday, folks. More appropriately (I guess), Happy Fat Tuesday.

Full disclaimer: I’m not Catholic, and Mardi Gras has no personal meaning for me. But many of you may join in the festivities and Lenten practices for the next 40 days. If you do, awesome. If you don’t, you’re welcome to hang with the rest of us heretics.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I sent out a newsletter on Tuesday. Life happens, deadlines loom, and if you’re me, there’s the ever-present anxiety beast that hangs back in the shadows, ready to rear its ugly head when you least expect it.

So, it’s been a minute. But we press on through whatever life throws our way and embrace what comes. In these times, I remember the words of Epictetus,

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” — Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5


You and I can only control what we can control. Trying to exercise influence over anything else is fruitless and will only cause us distress. For me, that means managing my schedule a little better and giving myself grace for getting all the things that I have to get done. That’s not easy for me, and it likely isn’t easy for you, o fearless type A perfectionist overachiever that you are.

Not that I have any experience speaking about such things…

So, today’s newsletter is a little different. I’m just going to call it “Rethinking & Reviewing” because you’re about to go on a journey through Mike’s stream of consciousness, and we’ll both find out the destination when we get there.

Here we go…

What I’m Thinking

The first year of my year-long teacher fellowship is coming to a close. We’ve met over the course of this school year to chat and help each other redesign lesson plans for deeper learning opportunities using the 4 Shifts protocol as a reference. To say the program has gone well would be a tremendous understatement. The feedback I’m receiving from the fellows is great and full of deep reflection. Most are well on their way to completing their lessons with students, and I’ll share more soon. For me, this first year will inform my work with other teachers and future cohorts but will likely also lead to part of the work for my dissertation in the coming years.

Speaking of deeper learning, I listened to episode 2 of the “Redesigning for Deeper Learning” podcast and was challenged by one particular thought: what does “student choice” really mean? Depending on the context of the lesson, giving the students options to choose from may or may not truly be “student choice.” With several lessons from my fellows fresh in my mind, I’m rolling this around in my head quite a bit this morning.

What I’m Reading

One of my goals this year for reading is to finish up all the published Cosmere works from Brandon Sanderson. I’ve gotten through most of Arcanum Unbounded, which features several previously published short stories and novellas based in the connected Cosmere. I also finished Warbreaker in January, and it might have become one of my favorite Sanderson novels. My current pick of the bunch from Arcanum is “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell,” a short story originally published in a collection, Dangerous Women, edited by George R.R. Martin. It’s a different tale from the standard Sanderson fare, leaning a bit more toward the horror genre. It was a fantastic read.

I’m also re-reading How to Write a Lot because I need a swift kick in the pants to get my writing practice back in order. There’s no better motivation to do that than when you hear the words “your dissertation starts NOW” during a Saturday morning class. Yikes.

On the academic reading side of the world, I’ve been using Speechify for a ridiculous amount of time to process articles. For my attention-span deficient brain – no formal diagnosis, just my own experiences – having the audio version of a text playing while I am reading is a brilliant focus tool. I read faster, retain more, and am able to focus far better than when I try to read text only. This is especially true for reading journal articles, papers, and so on. Speechify gives me an audio version of just about any text on my laptop or in my web browser. I now consider it an invaluable part of my productivity toolkit, right alongside Notion and Readwise.

What I’m Watching

In my random voyage of self-care, I ran across several seasons of the 90s revival of “The Outer Limits” on YouTube. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s an anthology series of separate sci-fi stories and features some surprising guest star appearances from some popular stars of the day (heck, even Leonard Nimoy shows up). In some episodes, they do make an attempt to connect some of the stories, which makes for interesting situations. Overall, a great way to spend 45 minutes.

Oh, and Picard Season 3 just started, so there’s that, too 😉

What’s in My Ears

Two recent episodes of The Daily from the NY Times caught my interest, mostly because they deal with the recent explosion of AI tools. “The Online Search Wars” and “The Online Search Wars Got Scary Fast” are well worth the listen.

Also, I continue to update my 2023 playlist of songs I discover, or remember, throughout the year. I’ve compiled playlists like this for 20222021, and 2020.

Wrapping Up

Well, I think I’ve rambled enough. Thanks again for reading and coming along for the ride. Have a great week!

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is a completely reader-supported publication. The best way to support it is to check out my recommendations or become a paid subscriber.

Advice for Brand New Teachers: You Don’t Have to Impress People

From Mastery by Robert Greene

Reflecting on my first year in the classroom, I was utterly obsessed with impressing everyone. Maybe it was because I came to teaching as a second career. Maybe it was due to my involvement at conferences and summits, even as a brand-new teacher.

Whatever my reasons for wanting to show everyone how good I was, those reasons led me down a path of exhaustion and stress that did nothing for my health and certainly didn’t help me when I wasn’t at school.

So, to help out any new teachers, I thought I’d pass on some advice I wish I’d known when I started teaching. Hopefully, you can avoid the stress, anxiety, and exhaustion I experienced and live a balanced life while still being a fantastic teacher.

You don’t need to be perfect — no one is

Perfectionism is a curse. The voice in your head tells you that you’re not good enough and that you need to try harder and do more. It’s the constant striving for an unattainable goal. And it’s exhausting.

I should know. I’m a perfectionist. I’ve always been a high achiever and always strived to be the best. And it’s taken its toll. I’ve spent hours obsessing over minor details that no one else would even notice. I’ve put immense pressure on myself to succeed, and as a result, I’ve often felt like a failure.

As a teacher, I work with perfectionists all the time — students who are afraid to make mistakes and who are afraid to take risks. And working with them has made me realize that perfectionism is a Learned Behavior — something we can unlearn.

Your students don’t need you to be perfect. They don’t need for your fantastic lesson to always happen exactly the way you envisioned. In fact, you likely already know that the perfect lesson rarely happens. If you’re like me and teach the same topic several times daily, you change something during every class period.

And sometimes, things still don’t work.

Your students need to see that you’re not afraid to fail or to try something new. They need to see you participate in the productive struggle. You don’t have to be perfect.

We can choose to let go of the need to be perfect, and in doing so, we can live happier, healthier lives.

So if you’re a perfectionist, take heart. You’re not alone. And there’s hope for us yet.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

It’s okay to ask for help

Asking for help is often seen as a sign of weakness, but it takes a lot of strength to admit that you need assistance. We all need help from time to time, whether we’re struggling with a personal issue or trying to figure out how to use a new piece of technology. Asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s often the smartest thing you can do.

When it comes to asking for help in the classroom, teachers shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to their colleagues. A fresh set of eyes can make all the difference when it comes to spotting problems with a lesson plan or finding new ways to engage students.

And when it comes to assessment, colleagues can provide valuable insights that can help improve the quality of your work. So don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. It’s okay to admit that you’re not perfect — we all are.

Take time for yourself

As teachers, we often put the needs of our students above our own. We teach because we want to make a difference in the lives of others, and that means sometimes sacrificing our own time and energy.

However, it’s important to remember that we can’t pour from an empty cup. To be the best teachers we can be, we must take care of ourselves first. That means taking time for rest, relaxation, and self-care. It might mean saying no to after-school activities or planning days off with family.

Seneca said this about guarding your time:

“No person would give up even an inch of their estate, and the slightest dispute with a neighbor can mean hell to pay; yet we easily let others encroach on our lives — worse, we often pave the way for those who will take it over. No person hands out their money to passers-by, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”

The only person who will prioritize your time is you. Don’t let someone else make their time more important than yours.

Whatever form it takes, self-care is essential to being a successful teacher.

So next time you feel run down, remember to take a little time for yourself. Your students will thank you for it!

Don’t compare yourself to others

If you’re like most people, you probably compare yourself to others regularly. Whether you’re comparing your work to a colleague’s or your teaching methods to a master teacher’s, it’s easy to feel like you’re falling short.

There is always someone further along in their career than you, but don’t worry — you’re not supposed to compare yourself to them! That’s because, as anyone with imposter syndrome will tell you, everyone feels like a fraud sometimes.

The only way to become a better teacher is to gain experience and keep learning. So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your journey and trust that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

Build relationships with your colleagues and students

There’s no denying that relationships are essential. Whether you’re trying to build relationships with your colleagues or students, it’s essential to put in the effort to create connections. After all, relationships are the foundation of any successful teaching experience. Establishing relationships with your students creates a supportive learning environment where everyone can thrive.

Don’t be the teacher who doesn’t smile until Christmas. Get to know your students. Laugh with them (not at them!), talk with them, and learn what they love about the world. It may help you connect with that student who never speaks to anyone.

And by developing relationships with your colleagues, you create a collaborative team that can work together to improve student outcomes. So if you’re looking to build relationships, remember that creating strong bonds takes time and effort. But the effort is well worth it when you see the positive impact that relationships can have on teaching and learning.

Be yourself

An old saying goes, “When in doubt, be yourself.” And while that may not be the most sage advice for every situation, it’s definitely something to keep in mind regarding your career.

After all, being authentic and genuine to yourself is one of the best ways to be successful.

Consider the classroom. As a teacher, you have the unique opportunity to connect with your students personally and help them learn in a relevant way. But to do that, you need to be genuine.

Your students will be able to sense if you’re being fake or if you’re going through the motions. Trust me; they have a BS detector that can spot a fake teacher from a hundred miles away. They’ll know if you’re doing something that is not authentic to who you are.

Don’t be that teacher who tries to do things in class so you can look cool to your students. (As a matter of fact, don’t use the word cool. I’m pretty sure it’s not cool anymore…)

But if you’re authentic, they’ll be more likely to engage with the material and learn from you.

Of course, there are times when it’s essential to put on a professional persona. But in general, it’s best to just be yourself. It might not always be easy, but it’s always worth it.

So there you have it: some advice on not being a perfect teacher and trying to impress everyone from a (spoiler alert) far-from-perfect teacher. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help, take time for yourself, don’t compare yourself to others, build relationships with your colleagues and students, and most importantly — be yourself!

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