When the final bell rings on the last day of school, the students cannot wait to burst out from the confines of the building that has been their second home for the past 9 months. The smiles, the energy, and the enthusiasm at the end of the school year would make an outsider wonder what evil tortures had taken place behind those gates.
What most do not realize is that while the students are off enjoying camp, vacations, and occasionally driving their parents crazy, the teachers are hard at work getting ready for the next school year, which is only a few months away.
So, what exactly do teachers do over the summer? While everyone deserves a week or two of vacation, teachers often use the summer to learn new skills, new teaching methodologies, or to prepare new class assignments. As teachers, we tell our students that learning is a lifelong process. Over the summer months, teachers have the opportunity to participate in a variety of learning programs. If you stop to think about this, teachers are actually given an amazing gift. How many other professions give its employees two months to retrain, take courses, or to brush up on preparations for the future? Yes, teachers may be overworked and underpaid, but for the true educators, the summer months can recharge the batteries for the year ahead.
Here are a few options for summer learning opportunities:
- Online courses- There are a wealth of online courses specifically geared towards teacher training. Topics include new teaching philosophies, curriculum building, as well as technology based subjects designed to bring your classroom to the next generation. Courses are offered both as self-paced programs as well as live interactive classes. You can find one that best suits your needs and time availability.
- Field Trips- Normally when we think of field trips, we think about 50 screaming kids on a bus with no air conditioning and a splitting headache. Summer however is a great time for teachers to go and explore the local museums and tourist attractions. Many locations actually offer special tours and programs for educators. These trips can be both enjoyable and informative.
- Conferences- The summer months are filled with conferences and workshops designed for teachers and educators. In the US alone, there are at least 5 major conferences taking place between June and August. Sometimes these conferences are a bit pricy, but many schools will be willing to help with the costs. Attending a conference during the summer can be an invigorating experience, as you can concentrate solely on the ideas being shared, without thinking about what your students are doing to that poor substitute.
- Online Research- This is perhaps the easiest opportunity. In the middle of a hectic school year, we do not always have time to sit down and properly search through the online resources that may be available. Summer is a great time to go through the lesson plans and media materials that can be available for your subject/class. Doing proper online research means searching, reviewing, and evaluating new resources. Getting this accomplished during the school year can be challenging. Over the summer, a teacher can devote full attention to new ideas.
Teachers work hard, and often our efforts are not fully appreciated. The summer is a time for personal renewal and to catch our breath. The educational cycle however is never really complete. A good teacher is always looking for new ways to reach their students or to make lessons more interesting. During the school year, we get busy with the job, family, and all of those other things that get in the way. Summer is a great time to get inspired and learn new ways to make a difference for our students.