Professional Development Gets Personal
How Teachers Can Spend The Summer Growing, Discovering, and Learning
Summer vacation should absolutely be a time for teachers to relax, recharge, and reflect on the last school year. But it can also be a time to pursue learning opportunities that you might not have time for while class is in session. It’s an opportunity to look for learning experiences that interest you, and that foster both professional and personal development. As a teacher, you understand that your students are still learning, growing — still discovering who they are and what they care about. You spend 9+ months out of the year supporting and empowering children in their complicated, messy journey of introspection and learning. But, just because you’re an adult, and you’ve found your calling, doesn’t mean your time for messy introspection, growth, and learning (or unlearning) is over. Summer is the perfect time to function like a student again, to seek out exciting learning opportunities, and give yourself the flexibility and freedom to grow and explore in a way that fosters your strengths and uncovers new interests.
To get you started on a summer of professional and personal development, we’ve gathered a few summer learning ideas:
You’re an educator — you don’t have to be reminded to do some summer reading. But, it might be useful to think about the mixture of pedagogical and personal reads that make up your summer 2017 list. Do you have books about blended learning, makerspaces, and PBL? Do you also have books about the teacher experience, with narratives and reflection, that remind you why you entered the profession in the first place? Do you have a few that fall under literary, historical, political (or whatever genre strikes your interest) as well? Focus on crafting a reading list that makes you feel prepared and refreshed for the school year with new teaching practices, fresh creative inspiration, and a healthy dose of personal wellness.
For many teachers, working a second job during the summer is a necessary reality. For others, it’s simply a refreshing change of pace. If you do take on employment during the summer, consider what you can take from your experiences for your own reflection, and back to the classroom. Maybe you’re a summer camp counselor, faith-based school teacher, or a tutor — think about what these less-structured, creative learning spaces do to your teaching, and your interactions with children. If the changes are beneficial, how can you attempt to replicate them this fall? If you work outside of education during the summer, watch how your work habits and thinking processes change when not around children — take the positive changes and consider how you might carry those into the classroom, too.
Many teachers take the summer to teach abroad, go on a mission trip, or explore new teaching strategies and educational cultures. Others travel for more personal fulfillment — to see family, to visit a special place. You can blend personal and professional by visiting a place or people that you spend the school year teaching your students about, and enter the classroom with a invaluable insights to share. Travel is, of course, costly, and often out of reach. Check out this article from Edutopia.com for tips and resources that could help you fund your trip.
Conferences & Workshops
We know, this one sounds strictly professional, and hardly personal — but, the truth is, connecting with other educators can be just what you need to not only enter the classroom with new teaching strategies, but also to be inspired by other teachers. Conferences like ISTE provide for so many opportunities for fun and socializing — remember, increasing your PLN can be about fostering some really valuable friendships, not just professional networking. If you have the resources to attend a conference, consider attending one that you know will be pedagogically valuable, but that also hones in on your passions. If you’re a tech guru, pick an EdTech conference, and if you’re really passionate about your subject area, visit a conference that’s filled with other specialists like you. Future Ready Schools offers specialized experiences for professionals like librarians and principals.
Sometimes, we all need a break from social media. It can be overwhelming. But it can also be an incredibly powerful tool to connect you to like-minded professionals, or to entirely new approaches to teaching and learning. Keep tabs on Twitter chats, like #edchat, or #edtechchat to gather inspiration from other teachers. Or, consider crafting some of your own social media content, by committing to sharing your teaching experiences regularly on Twitter, or on your own blog. Medium is an excellent blogging platform for educators. If you’re already active on social media, then you’re probably familiar with Twitter-savvy educator Kyle Pace — he wrote this piece on our blog about summer social media use for teachers.
Lastly, to show advocacy for healthy, safe, and equitable student learning over the summer, check out how you can get involved in National Summer Learning Day:
National Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning…www.summerlearning.org