The other day, my students asked what I was going to do with ALL of my summer free time (insert obligatory teacher eye roll).
So I showed them my calendar for the upcoming months, complete with graduate classes, professional development classes, back to school teacher days, Flex Days, and days I’ve planned on my own to design new course materials. Their reaction was somewhere in between shock/awe/admiration and confirmation that I truly am crazy. They were a little blown away that teachers actually want to think about teaching during the summer, let alone come into the school to work with other teachers.
If you’re indecisive about summer plans or looking to improve on your craft, then check out my 4 reasons to consider summer professional development list below.
Jump Start Your New School Year: If you find yourself with a list of changes, new courses to plan, new policies to implement, new handouts and web materials to create for next year then consider a planning a summer professional development time with your colleagues. In my district, we have “Flex Days” that allow us to work during the summer in exchange for scheduled PD days during the school year – let’s face it, it’s nice to have an additional day to recharge during the school year!
A few tips:
- ask your colleagues for input into goals and a schedule for the PD day
- create a proposal of your PD goals and submit for approval to the appropriate district personnel
- develop a schedule – a free day might not be the most productive – create short periods designed around common goals and don’t forget to schedule lunch
- bring snacks – I know that this helps me to focus!
Add to Your Professional Resume: There are some AMAZING PD opportunities available that will add some serious beef to your professional resume. Look for out of school opportunities through non-profits and professional content/subject organizations. I hope to get a list out soon that includes suggested organizations for ALL content areas.
For now, I can share two of my favorite Social Studies related PD opportunities:
The National Endowment for the Humanities has multiple options for summer PD but I prefer the Landmark Workshops. These are one-week courses with a stipend (close enough to cover all of your costs) and materials (books, primary documents) as well as tons of Act 48 hours. The Chief Educational Officer of my district actually questioned me after my Act 48 hours report came out – he didn’t know about my obsession with the Landmarks workshops!
The one thing about these workshops that I can’t speak enough about is the experience. Thinking back, I’ve been allowed a private tour of the closed hospital section at Ellis Island, kayaked with loons during a foggy morning in the Adirondacks, visited with a close friend of Zora Neale Hurston who was in her early 100s (she made us all lunch because Southern manners and all), and watched wild horses play in Wyoming.
There are SO many more small but memorable moments that come from these workshops but overall it’s the knowledge you gain that exceeds any and all expectations. The instructors are top notch – study the Gilded Age in New York with Ken Jackson at Columbia? Sure! The materials that you’re able to take back into the classroom are awesome – I’m talking loads of primary documents and resources.
The Teaching American History workshops and summer seminars are just as great – there are multiple options from weekend to single day colloquia, Saturday seminars, and iTunes courses.
Stay tuned – I’m working on a list of resources for all content areas!
Increase Your Content Knowledge:
This summer, I’ve been invited to a free workshop offered by the National Park Service. Free? Check. Tons of resources? Check. Increasing my ability to teach about Eisenhower and the Civil Rights Movement through primary documents? Check.
Being able to take more content knowledge back into the classroom is an amazing summer goal. Look for professional development opportunities that focus on an area of your content that you could improve on – you don’t want to waste time revisiting material or content that you have already mastered!
Gain New Professional Connections:
A summer PD opportunity doesn’t just have to be about content or skills but it could also be a way to make new professional connections. Be sure to take your business card to hand out and a small ziploc bag to keep the cards you collect – when you get the chance, input the contacts into your phone, a spreadsheet, or however you organize your contacts.
However you plan to spend your summer – try to find a small (or large if you have the time) professional development opportunity.
If you have any suggestions for content or skill related PD organizations or opportunities – let me know in the comments and I will add it to my list!