The temperature rises. Students get restless, constantly begging to have class outside. Somehow everything just seems louder. Then, the school year ends and you sigh a long breath of relief. You vow to kick your feet up and relax. “I am not thinking about school until at least August,” you think to yourself.
And yet, two weeks later, you miss your kids, your classroom, your teacher friends. You’re a great teacher and you can’t stay away. Here are some ideas for how to spend your summer, balancing relaxation with your own personal growth.
If You’re Seeking Something Big
Here are a few ideas that will keep you fully engaged for most of the summer.
Rewrite or Revise Your Curriculum
Maybe you’re teaching a new class or you just really didn’t like how certain things went last year. Summer is a great time to write and revise curriculum. Later this summer we’ll discuss mapping your curriculum.
Plan and test out a PBL Unit
If you’ve been wanting to try Project Based Learning but simply haven’t had the time to plan one, spend summer doing so! Take the time to reach out to guest speakers, line up your authentic audience, and plan trips for your PBL. Then DO the project yourself so that you can anticipate challenges that may arise for the students.
Make Videos of Your Content
Summer is also a good opportunity to make short videos of your content. Videos are a great extra resource for students. They’re also key if you’re planning to try a flipped classroom model or if you need to be hybrid in the fall.
Take a Class
There are tons of learning opportunities for teachers to take classes over the summer. Here is a list of offerings by state. There are even more options if you are willing to pay for a course through a local or online university. A search for “summer courses for teachers 2023” yields many results. You could also directly search for the opportunities at a university local to you. Being a student is a ton of fun! I find that taking classes helps me to empathize with my own students and often gives me great ideas to try in my own classroom.
If You Want to Spend Only Part of Your Summer Working
Here are a few ideas for continuing your growth without sacrificing all of your summer.
Rework Assessments and Lessons
Reflect on a few of your least effective assessments and lessons throughout the year. Take the time to revisit them and revise them. Here is a protocol for analyzing student work on assessments. I really like this protocol for using student work to analyze the task and the instruction surrounding the task. The protocol ends with brainstorming ways to revise the lesson and assessment to make it more effective.
Attend a Workshop
Perhaps you want to learn something new but don’t want to take a whole course. Consider signing up for a single day workshop or webinar. There are so many opportunities here. Some are very local, others are online. Do a simple search for “summer 2023 workshops for teachers in the US” and narrow in on your interests.
Clean and Reorganize your Classroom
Let’s face it. By the end of the school year our classrooms can look like a tornado just rolled through. Our space should feel inviting, welcoming, and inspiring to our students. It shouldn’t leave them feeling like they need to click their heels together chanting, “there’s no place like home.” Do a deep clean of the room. Throw away all that student work that you’ve been hoarding, Marie Condo style. Redecorate, rearrange, maybe give flexible seating a try.
You Want to Learn Something…While On the Beach
Listen to Podcasts
One of my absolute favorite ways to learn something new is to listen to podcasts. There are tons out there that are specific to teaching like The Cult of Pedagogy or any of these from the
Teach Better Network, including our own “Learner-Centered Spaces”. Our lessons are most impactful when they can incorporate current events and podcasts are a great way to get inspired. I once planned an entire statistics project based on an episode I heard on Hidden Brain.
I love to sit out on my hammock with a good book and an ice cold glass of iced tea with mint from my garden. I’m looking forward to picking a couple books from Edutopia’s 2021 Teacher Book List to keep my mind occupied this summer. We’ll write a blog post with our book recommendations as well. You could also join a book study like the one we just wrapped up on “Creating Curious Classrooms.” We’ve got one more coming up at the end of the summer. If a book sounds too daunting, try an education blog. Ours is a good place to start.
Participate in a Twitter Chat
If you’re not on Twitter yet, you’re missing out! Yes, it’s social media, but oh my goodness, it is a treasure trove of resources for teachers. Join the community! Start following other amazing teachers. Share ideas and articles, and even engage in a Twitter chat. You will learn so much.
Keep a Teaching Journal
As you get inspired by podcasts, books, and conversations, write down all of your ideas in a teaching journal. That way, when you’re ready to start planning again, you’ve got plenty of fresh and exciting ideas.
Hang out around Students
One way to stay connected to your teaching is to be around kids. Volunteer to help out at a local summer camp, coach a team, run a summer program at the library, or be a troop leader. Spending quality time with kids is a great way to continue to learn about how they think, what their interests are, and how to connect with them. We all know that relationships are fundamental in teaching and the more we can do to empathize with our students, the better.
You Need a Real Break
Remember, it is 100% FINE to take a real break. This year has been more exhausting than any other year in my career and I’ll bet that’s the case for you too. It’s fine to shut your brain off and just relax.
- Spend time with friends and family
- Unplug by camping or taking a spa day
- Do an art project
- Participate in a Self-Care Challenge
What will you choose to do this summer? We’d like to hear. Please comment on this post or share on social media. Make sure to tag us @Masteryforall on Twitter or on LinkedIn at Mastery Portfolio or on our Facebook Group.