Teachers know that while they may spend less physical time in the classroom this summer, their teacher brains will never actually go on vacation. It can be hard to know how to best spend those precious summer hours to set the next year up for success. While it’s tempting to spend days on Pinterest scrolling picture perfect leveled libraries and awe inspiring bulletin boards those pictures themselves won’t up your teaching game. Instead, follow these four recommendations. Our tips will truly help you make the most of your summer and will send you back to your classroom ready to rock and roll.
Before you look towards the new year, take time to look back. What did you love about last year? What mistakes did you make? No year is perfect and there are sure to be things you’d love to repeat and others you’d rather forget. Jot down your thoughts and choose one area of growth for next year. It may be record keeping, flexible seating, test prep or center-based learning. Whatever it is, write it down and commit to learning all you can about it this summer.
Take the area of growth you chose and really commit to it. Immerse yourself in new information and fill your mind with ideas. Summer is a great time to attend professional development online or in person as you’ll actually have time to process what you learn before returning to the classroom. Check out the ACSD programs, Annenberg Learner and PBS TeacherLine or even contact your local community college to see what courses are offered this summer. Plan carefully and you’ll likely be able to earn CEU’s or even graduate credits for the courses you attend.
As you’re learning, take time to collaborate with other teachers. It’s so important to bounce ideas off one another and share what you’ve been learning. If you have a teacher network you’re already invested in, make meeting with them a priority. If not, check out a nearby EdCamp. If technology is more your thing, learn how to connect with other professionals on social networks. Twitter is the network of choice for many educators and you can even get a crash course in Twitter PD from Education World.
If you’re anything like me, must read books pile up throughout the school year. Summer is the perfect time to relax with a good book. Start your summer with a list of books you’d like to tackle so you’re always ready to grab another one off the shelf. In addition to reading all you can about your growth goal it’s refreshing and inspiring to hear from other teachers. I love The Freedom Writers Diary and The Courage to Teach when I’m looking for inspiration and Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind when I need a good laugh.
While it may seem counterintuitive to focus so much of your learning on one topic, teachers often spread their professional learning so thin that they head back to their classroom with a million good ideas, but very little depth of knowledge. Giving yourself one goal over the summer will help you head back to your classroom truly ready to make a change in that area and all the preparation you put in will keep you from falling back into the way you’ve always done it in the past. So choose something and become an expert this summer. You’ll thank yourself in September.
* Links are provided for ease of use. We do not use affiliate links.