Summer is wonderful, especially for teachers with adolescent children–our kids still need us, but not too much. While I enjoyed time home with my sons when they were younger, there was always an adjustment period as we re-established routines. We’d finally get into a groove and then August would hit, and I’d experience a mourning period as our 24/7 time together came to a close. In those earlier years of my career, I was also preoccupied with gathering clock hours and credits, and so I would scramble to find daycare coverage to attend my district’s summer professional development opportunities. Looking back, I am so grateful for all of the learning experiences I’ve had surrounding literacy instruction, GLAD and AVID strategies, and more, but that is not a time period I would want to relive!
Now that the kids are older, we all adjust more quickly to new routines, but we are busy! The boys are at camp this week, swim lessons start next week, and karate classes continue a few nights a week throughout the summer. My smaller school district does not offer as many professional growth opportunities, and that’s okay because I have plenty of clock hours. This is still a great time for me to learn, though. I don’t have to be in the pool with the kids at all times, and my brain has space to think about and ponder new ideas. This is why I am creating my own summertime on-demand professional learning plan.
My basic plan is to read and listen–listen to and read “stuff” that makes me a smarter teacher. Several of us here at corelaboratewa.org have discussed books we will read this summer–Nicole’s endorsement of The Sketchnote Handbook by Mike Rhode prompted my interest in that resource, and Mary’s list of library options also inspired some immediate Amazon purchases. While a few more professional books are in my cue for this summer, I am also excited to catch up with some of my favorite blogs and podcasts as we drive to karate or wait for swim lessons to begin. Here’s my list:
Dave Stuart, Jr. is the first blogger I started following beyond this group. A literacy teacher, speaker, and writer, Dave presents a manageable framework for CCSS-aligned literacy work, and also provides a number of ideas regarding “smarter” work habits. He’s onto something, and I want to re-look at his most updated framework as well as his pop-up debate structure.
I found Gerard Dawson’s blog through Dave’s blog. The first series of articles I read had to do with providing effective, manageable writing feedback. He has some great ideas, and I can’t wait to read some of his archives.
Achieve the Core published this 2017 Summer Reading Challenge. The articles come from their Aligned blog. I am eager to brush up on some of these Core-focused topics, especially those regarding argument writing and supporting learners who are below grade level.
Matt Miller’s Ditch that Textbook discusses everything from solid teaching and student engagement to how to use Google and other technology resources. I would follow this blog even if I didn’t have 1-2-1 Chromebooks, and this will be a resource for me as I work on some Google exams this summer.
I don’t remember how I stumbled upon the work of AJ Juliani, but he’s a great resource for 20% Time, Genius Hour and Design Thinking. I used one of his free challenges with a group of students at the end of the year and it was so fun! While I haven’t figured out how I want to incorporate this work into my English classroom, I want to keep thinking about it.
Over the years I have listened to various podcasts including This American Life and Serial. It hadn’t occurred to me to look for ones related to education until Matt Miller and shakeuplearning.com’s Kasey Bell started the Google Teacher Tribe podcast earlier this year. They have taken a break for the summer, but I need to relisten to a few of their first 20 episodes. Some Google knowledge is needed to follow all that they say, but really they offer a wealth of ideas big and small.
Chris Nesi’s House of #Edtech is another educational technology podcast that I have found valuable with more varied topics including how to write an edtech grant or how to get by with limited technology. I plan to access some of his older episodes this summer.
John Spencer is working on some projects with AJ Juliani around design thinking and, most recently, empowering students. I follow his blog and YouTube channel as well, but the podcast seems to bring all of his ideas together full-circle. I appreciate how he explores various interests and asks questions about our school system.
Daniel E. Bauer’s Better Leaders Better Schools is a podcast targeted toward school principals. I am not a principal yet, but I would like to be one someday. Each episode features a different interview with a school principal, and it is interesting to hear about the work of other school leaders. After four episodes, a trend regarding the importance of relationships and trust has emerged. These first-person accounts are inspiring so I’ll keep listening.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of reading-for-fun and relaxation is also in the cards for this summer, but I’m excited about this plan and these resources. Do you have your own on-demand professional learning plan? Do you have other resources you’d recommend?