Idea #2 – Find Something to Grow
The school year is packed to the gills with the needs of others.
- Teacher committees
- And so on…..
Summer provides teachers the opportunity to step away from all of the “immediate” and allows us to take time for the “important”. This is not to say that the things in the list above are not important, but let’s be honest by the middle of second semester we tend to focus on what is right in front of us rather than on long term growth planning. Take time this summer to find something “important” in your classroom or teaching that needs a little tending to grow to a more full potential. Knowing that summer allows for professional growth, we need to also make that growth a priority and set aside time among the other priorities for summer.
For the first time ever, and I mean EVER, in two decades with my district, I am being paid a small stipend to do some curricular planning and collaboration with my colleagues. This is a credit to my building administrator who understands that this type of team planning in the summer is truly important for success in those other nine and a half months. However, if we’re only planning for those few hours on the one or two days that might be reimbursed by our district, we will still be ill-prepared for the challenges that await us next year. Good teaching means that I am going to spend some of my precious summer hours preparing myself and my classroom for next year.
Let me suggest just a few areas in which we as teachers might spend a little of our precious summertime benefiting not just our students but benefiting ourselves for the epic school-year-long quest ahead.
Attend a conference or workshop:
Find a one or two day-long conference in your local area or region to meet and develop relationships with other teachers that can become part of your personal professional learning community. I live in a rural area of Illinois and while there are some opportunities like this they are somewhat limited but even if the topic is not exactly what I would like there is a benefit from interacting with other teachers outside my classroom, building, and district. I will also be heading to Chicago later this month for the Illinois Flipped & Blended Learning Network’s Conference/Workshop (June 20&21 Huntley, IL). At only $50 for two days this is something I can afford and I get the opportunity to learn about new methods and tools from educators outside my immediate area but that share the same state requirements as I do. Every school and building is different, but many of the challenges are the same and seeing how others address challenges in their districts and classrooms allows me to see what I may want to do or things that I can rule out as solutions for my challenges.
Go out for beverages:
Social time is an underrated and underappreciated aspect of conferences by many teachers. If an event has an after-hours or post-party consider participating. Taking a little extra time to join folks at a local establishment strengthens and establishes strong professional relationships. I am a social introvert who like my own space, does not drink alcohol, and generally enjoys the “lone-wolf” approach to teaching, but I have found the social component of teaching conferences to be far and away the most important aspect of any teacher gathering. I attended a major flipped learning conference in 2015 with some of the most welcoming and friendly educators, and I wasted a tremendous opportunity by heading out to eat by myself every evening because I didn’t understand the power of sharing a meal or an iced tea with a group of educators. Now every conference trip I lead, or conference I plan, or workshop I attend, I either plan a post conference event or broadcast a common meal site via social media for those interested. This is something I have only done in the past few years, but I have met many interesting and inspiring educators at the bottoms of many iced tea glasses.
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