If you have been watching or listening to any news media recently, you have heard lots of talk about “brain drain,” the loss of learning that occurs over the summer months when children are not in school. Many sources, including a Washington Post article, offer great suggestions to keep students engaged in learning over the summer, but what about educators? There are lots of enjoyable ways educators can learn this summer, too!
Whether you read a novel for fun, read research books for your curriculum, or read books you plan to use with students, being bookish will help you stay sharp this summer. To get the most bang for your buck, read books that are related to your area of expertise. If you are a school counselor, read books about themes with which your clientele struggle, such as bullying, relational aggression, poverty, anxiety, etc. If you are a teacher, read books that take your content area to a new level, such as biographies or autobiographies of important figures or books that make you view your content in new and different ways. Save your hard-earned cash by going to a local library for print books or using Overdrive to borrow e-books and audiobooks.
Learn While You Listen
Think of ways you can combine things you love (or are already doing) with extra learning by listening to podcasts. You can listen to podcasts during your morning run, driving in the car, gardening, traveling on vacation, or lounging in the sun. Here are some ideas of where to find podcasts related to your field:
- Apple Education Podcast List: Apple has a large list of popular education podcasts. You can also do a specific search through iTunes.
- Professional organizations: Check out your professional organization to see if they offer podcasts specific to your field—many do! (School Counselors check out the American School Counselor Association’s ASCAway Podcast.)
- TED Talks Podcasts: TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks are inspiring and interesting. You can find talks on a variety of topics that can spark learning and creativity.
Connect with Colleagues at Conferences
Seek out professional development opportunities this summer where you connect with colleagues in your field. Share information and ideas you have learned from sessions you attended. By sharing and “teaching” each other about the new things you learned, you will increase your own learning and learn something new from your friend. Edcamps, new participant-driven conference experiences, are cropping up all over the United States, Canada, and worldwide. Check to see if there is an Edcamp coming to a city near you for an even more dynamic way to connect and learn with your colleagues.
Take the Tech Plunge
If you are looking to get more tech-savvy, the summer is a great time to do it. Look for classes on technology in these places:
- Your local library: Many libraries host classes related to all things tech, including blogging, creating a website, and using different technology tools. Use this library search to find out what a library near you has to offer.
- Apple stores: Apple offers free hour-long workshops to help you learn how to maximize the potential of your latest i-gadget at an Apple store near you. (They offer programs for kids, too!)
- State department of education: In my state, Pennsylvania, our state department of education and local Intermediate Units provide various trainings throughout the year, including technology trainings. They offer trainings on wikis, blogs, SMART Boards, and other tech tools educators can use. Many are free or low cost. Check out your state and local education training providers to see what is available to you.
- Colleges and universities: Check out your local colleges and universities to see what tech classes they have to offer. You may be able to audit a class or participate in a free workshop. There may be additional perks and programs available to alumni.
- The World Wide Web: Search the Internet for tutorials on tech tools you want to learn how to utilize in your classroom or profession. Free Technology for Teachers is a blog that provides a wealth of information about technology tools that educators can use in and out of the classroom. School Counselors’ Online Professional Exchange (SCOPE) is a great resource for school counselors who want to learn about technology tools and how they can utilize them as school counselors.
For more ways to enjoy your summer as an educator, check out my Free Spirit post, 10 Ways to Rest, Relax, and Rejuvenate This Summer!
What are other ways you soak up knowledge over the summer to prevent your own “brain drain”?
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