How to Make the Most of Your Sabbatical

Lexa Pennington's picture

Teaching is hard work—physically, intellectually, emotionally. In the past, when teachers had the opportunity to earn tenure, many educational institutions permitted their teachers to take sabbaticals, which are extended break periods during which teachers could rest, reflect and otherwise recuperate from their difficult work. If you feel that you are on the verge of burnout, you might award yourself your own sabbatical, giving yourself several months or perhaps years away from the classroom.

Of course, the purpose of a sabbatical should always be to return to the classroom better than ever to ensure that your students have the best teacher in you. To that end, here are a few productive ways you might spend your sabbatical in ways that help you improve your mind, body and spirit.

How to Make the Most of Your Sabbatical

Expand Your Worldview

Students often have frustratingly narrow points of view that limits their capacity to learn new subjects. Unfortunately, teachers also sometimes suffer from restricted perspectives, which negatively impact their ability to instruct students of different backgrounds or in different topics. If you haven’t spent much time outside of your regional bubble, you might dedicate a significant portion of your sabbatical to seeing the rest of the world.

Traveling to different corners of the map will put you in contact with people and cultures apart from your own. You might try to find accommodation in group living houses, like hostels, where you can get to know fellow travelers and locals on a deeper level. As you gain more experiences beyond the familiar, you can gain greater understanding and empathy for others, which you can apply to success in the classroom.

Another way to expand your worldview besides travel is through volunteer work. In volunteering with local causes, you can learn more about the struggles of people in your own community and work to improve conditions in your own backyard. You might volunteer for a wide variety of organizations and events, and as you do, you should go out of your way to get to know the people you encounter. Not only will you be able to expand your perspective of your community, but you may have a significant impact on people in need.

Enhance Your Credentials

By no means did progress stop the moment you graduated with your bachelor’s degree in education. In the years since you last stepped foot in a classroom as a student, great advancements have been made—in understanding how people learn, in developing strategies for teaching different material, in organizing teaching materials and so much more. You might devote some or all of your sabbatical to enhancing your knowledge and skill in teaching by returning to school to pursue an advanced degree in education.

Then again, if a graduate degree in education doesn’t appeal to you, you can find all manner of UAGC online master’s programs to complete during your time away from work. You might consider education leadership if you are looking to pivot into school administration, library sciences if you care to focus on collections of knowledge or any other subject that you feel passionate about crafting a career around.

Explore Other Educational Institutions

Not all schools operate the same way, and certainly different teachers have different methods of managing their work. If you are looking for information as well as inspiration in your teaching career, you might spend some time exploring how other educational institutions and educators function.

To start, you might ask to shadow some highly acclaimed teachers in your area for a week to get a sense of how they conduct their classrooms. If you come to respect one educator in particular, you might ask if they have time to mentor you, as mentor relationships offer dozens of benefits from job satisfaction to earning increases.

If there is a particular educational institution you are curious about, like an EdTech company or an education consulting firm, you might inquire about internship opportunities. You can get a good sense of a company’s culture with even a short stint as an intern, which might help you make difficult career decisions once your sabbatical ends.


A sabbatical is an exciting opportunity to do for yourself what you usually lack time for during your regular working life. If you use your sabbatical wisely, you can return to work better than ever — which is what both you and your students deserve. 

How to Make the Most of Your Sabbatical