By Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., author of Self-Regulation in the Classroom: Helping Students Learn How to Learn
Part of our Cash in on Learning series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.
Whew! The 2020-2021 school year has finally come to an end. I know we are all exhausted from whatever level of instruction was to be had (virtual, hybrid, in-person). Teachers are also burnt out from the various types of professional development experienced throughout the year. Summer is here and it is time for us to relax and rejuvenate. It can also be time for us to reconnect to professional development opportunities.
If your district or professional development provider recorded sessions, summer can be a great time to go back and review what was presented. Take 10 minutes, whether at the beach, on your back porch, or on that cross-country trip to view a session. Schedule yourself in the morning, afternoon, early evening and even before bedtime to watch 10-15 minutes of a session. Over a period of days, you will have covered the entire workshop.
Summer may also allow you to devote longer amounts of time to either completing a course or viewing online workshops. You may want to consider taking a course outside of your teaching area, so if you are a science teacher, take a college course in art appreciation; or if you’re a math teacher, try taking a course in culinary arts. So many organizations provide robust courses virtually that can expand your knowledge base. The Great Courses offers an array of courses from learning to play the guitar to understanding physics. The cool thing about these courses is you can consume them on your own time, at your own pace.
Learning in Real Time
No one wants to spend lovely summer days cooped up in a classroom. However, some districts may have to provide summer workshops due to expenses, substitute issues, or space needs. Typically, the pace of summer workshops is relaxed and more collaborative. This might be the time for you to enhance your skills as a teacher, learn more about your content area, or build a collaborative relationship with other teachers.
Another way to enhance your professional development over the summer is to seek out workshops or experiences in your local community. As a math teacher, taking a course at the arboretum on landscape design can help in getting students interested in geometry. As a science teacher, I could learn about nature-based therapeutics. As a music teacher, I might be interested in how birds communicate via song.
Check out your local museums. Whether it be a science museum or an art museum, they are sure to provide classes of interest. In Minneapolis, we have the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which offers classes for adults, children, and families. What a great way to spend a day, picnicking on the grounds and learning about the art and artists. Again, this might be a great way to enrich your teaching, by finding the math in art, or the science in painting, or the artistic representations of a novel.
I highly recommend attending cultural events in your school or local community. This is a great way to immerse yourself in learning about your students’ history, art, foods, and traditions. This type of professional development goes beyond learning content to learning about the students you teach.
Finally, when you take that trip, whether to the lake or cross-country, take note of what you are experiencing. Journal, blog, or take pictures of your vacation time. When we return to school in the fall, share your learning, and adventures with your students. This can be the best professional development: making those personal connections with your students.
I’d love to hear how you intend to continue learning over the summer. Please share with me how you plan to make the best out the next few months.
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit Publishing. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
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