Teachers are a hard-working bunch of people. We notoriously will bring work home at night and on the weekends. We grade papers while watching Netflix in the background. We attend webinars to develop our expertise and a lot of times, it’s not required and is something we saw in our PLN (Professional Learning Network) online.
And when those who don’t teach say we get summers off? Well, you just don’t know a teacher well enough yet to know that we do not always take time off to ourselves. We are always learning and there is always summer school to staff.
However, taking time off is important to come back revitalized in the fall and ready to teach. It’s also nice to feel motivated to try out some new strategies or lessons for the coming up school year. So how can we marry the two in order to grow our teaching practice and relax?
Read for fun and growth
I know some of you are thinking, “You don’t have to tell me twice!” to read, but let’s make our reading intentional so that we are reading a little for fun and a little for growth. I think it’s wise to choose at least one book to focus on for professional development for the summer, and the rest is whatever you like! Because we know once the school year gets started, reading a PD book will fall far down our list of to-dos.
If you want someone to keep yourself accountable and to discuss some of the key takeaways of your chosen book, look for an online book club or start your own! In teacher Twitter land, there are thousands of educators. I teach ESL so I follow a lot of ESL educators. One educator, Dr. Katie Toppel, moderates the #MLLChat_BkClub and they are currently reading Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners by Diane Staehr Fenner and Sydney Snyder.
Some other recommended reads for professional learning are:
- Breaking Down the Wall: Essential Shifts for English Learners’ Success by Margarita Espino Calderon, Maria G. Dove, Diane Staehr Fenner, Margo Gottlieb, Andrea M. Honigsfeld, Tonya W. Singer, Shawn M. Sinclair-Slakk, Ivannia Soto, and Debbie Zacarian
- Connecting with Students Online: Strategies for Remote Teaching & Learning by Jennifer Serravallo
- Unpack Your Impact by Naomi O’Brian and Lanesha Tabb
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
I know some of us are already eye-balling some books to jump into for pleasure, but here are some suggestions from the teachergram that you can get on Amazon or your preferred local/online bookstore:
- Any Book by Liane Moriarty for some guilty pleasure reading
- The School I Deserve by Jo Napolitano
- Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
- Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
- A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Netflix/Webinar in your comfiest clothing
I never really was a webinar person until the pandemic hit. Then it was like a whole new world opened up! I started signing up for them like crazy because I knew a lot of them would send a replay afterwards. I had them piling up in my inbox and I finally found some I wanted to keep and some I wanted to unsubscribe from. Some of my favorites are in the Saddleback Educational Publishing free webinar series, but whatever your content-area or interest, there are tons out there! EducationWeek, ASCD.org, Savvas, and Pearson are all great places to start.
While becoming a webinar junkie has taught me a lot, chilling out and watching Netflix is just as important. If you know you might go overboard on the webinars, make a goal for one a week, and the rest is you time to chill out and discover other programs or books that you may have been interested in but always get put on the backburner during the school year.
Share your knowledge
There are lots of teachers out there sharing what they know and learning from others. This article from We Are Teachers gives you the top 25 on Instagram if you need help getting started, or check out this list of 7 Diverse Teacher Leaders on Instagram Who Inspire and Motivate Us. I think the best decision I made for my teaching practice was making my own. I thought I was doing it to share what I knew, but boy did I start learning so much and making such great connections with educators across the globe!
So while you are relaxing and scrolling this summer on the beach or at a campground, add in some teachers to the mix to enhance your teaching practice. And if you want to really start growing, put yourself out there and share some of your own stuff! Share for others or share for feedback; either way, you are opening yourself up to opportunities and people that you never would have before.
Keep glowing, keep growing!
Do what makes you glow and you will surely grow! If you know that you need more time for yourself doing things you wouldn’t normally do in the school year, like reading more fiction or listening to a silly podcast, do that! If you know that you want to learn more about a specific strategy or topic, do that! You know what you need to be the best educator you can be, and that might be more rest or more development to grow.
The key is to try to plan your ideas so that the summer doesn’t get away from you and you regret not having enough time for what you wanted. So if you need to have a summer planner to jot down your webinar for the week or your book of the month, go ahead and schedule it now. If you need to schedule your massages, epsom salt baths, or acupuncture sessions, jot those down too.
We all know that you love to read and continue growing, but if you want some ideas for your students on how to keep reading going over the summer break, check out this ReadTheory post to get a headstart!
However you choose to do it, being intentional will help you make the most out of the summer. Rest up! You deserve it.