By Kelli Drummer-Avendano
A little rest and relaxation should be at the top of every teacher’s to-do list this summer. These past few months have been challenging, to say the least. However, once the dust has settled and you’ve caught up on your sleep, here are some ideas to turn the summer break into a learning opportunity for the teacher in you:
1. Online classes
No doubt you spent a ton of time online this year, since most schools ended the semester with remote learning. Now that summer’s here, why not take an online class yourself? You could even take a class about methods for teaching online! If anything, you’ll get the chance to see what it’s like to be a student learning remotely, which will give you insight into how to be a better online instructor.
2. Virtual conferences or webinars
Attending a conference is a popular means of professional development during the summer months. However, due to social distancing protocols, some conferences are changing to a virtual format this year. Use this to your advantage and sign up for a conference you may not have been able to attend in person due to the travel costs. Additionally, you can find webinars focused on teaching and learning that give you the chance to explore a topic of interest without spending too much money.
3. Podcast club
I’m sure you’re familiar with the concept of a book club; this is the same idea, only you and the group choose different podcasts to listen to and discuss. The best part is that you can listen in the car, while working around the house, exercising, cooking dinner, etc. Take turns picking the theme and developing discussion questions. You can find podcasts about education in general or those focused on a specific subject, such as science or social studies.
4. Social media groups
Twitter has a hashtag for just about any topic you could imagine, and education is no exception. For example, you can follow #MathChat or #LangChat to take part in the weekly conversations on those subjects. Other popular hashtags include #ELearning or #Education. Facebook also has groups dedicated to teaching, including one specifically for first year teachers—because everyone knows how difficult that year can be.
5. Language learning
Embark on or continue your language journey this summer. Learning a new language brings numerous benefits to anyone, but as a teacher it can help you connect with your students in a whole new way. Maybe a there’s a large community of English language learners who would appreciate a teacher showing an interest in their native language. Or, perhaps pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will inspire you to try a new activity or teaching method in the classroom.
6. Take a trip
Expand your horizons and take a trip—even if it’s just to a town near you. Getting away can give you a new perspective on issues or ideas that have been bouncing around in your head for the last nine months. Unfamiliar surroundings sharpen our senses and can pull us out of a rut. Additionally, you could take a trip to a museum or exhibit that deepens your knowledge of a subject you’ve wanted to include in your lesson plans but haven’t yet.
Journaling doesn’t always have to be done with paper and pencil. Voice memos, virtual collages, or blogging are a few ways to reflect on your previous school year and the one to come. Planned reflections have the power to generate ideas, support your growth as a teacher, and even transform how you approach teaching. Generate a list of questions you want to consider this summer. For example, “How did my students respond to Unit A?” or “What new ideas am I looking forward to trying next year?”