I can still remember the summer after my first year of teaching. My roommate, a fellow high school English teacher, and I literally sat on the couch for a week watching episodes of The Real World, reveling in the fact that we were getting paid to rest!
However, as soon as that week was over, I immediately began a Shakespeare course that culminated in a week-long trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Canada. I loved this teacher-targeted professional opportunity, and I really valued the time I had to truly immerse myself in my studies.
I was a better teacher after that summer professional development opportunity, and have found wonderful PD courses and experiences every summer since then!
As teachers, we all need education and professional development hours to renew our licenses, but it is also important to stay current in our field and show our own students that we, too, are learners. When students can see that their teachers are on an educational journey alongside them, they have better rapport with and respect for their educators. Therefore, teachers should be proud of the education and professional development opportunities they take part in and should actively seek out new ones. Some benefits include:
When students can see that their teachers are on an educational journey alongside them, they have better rapport with and respect for their educators.
Taking classes helps reminds teachers of the struggles their learners face each day.
Taking classes also allows teachers to reflect on assessment practices and see assessment from the side of the learner rather than assessor.
New learning allows teachers to become knowledgeable of educational trends.
Unique opportunities allow for interactions with colleagues from other schools and districts.
I want to share some of my favorite teacher professional development opportunities as well as to encourage teachers to seek out new ways to learn. It’s always hard to find time to get enough credits to keep our licenses current while also finding teacher education and professional development opportunities that are enriching and meaningful.
Despite the many benefits of professional development in the summer, teachers can have a hard time finding opportunities and the time to complete activities. To start looking for summer PD opportunities, I suggest starting with the following
Once a teacher finds a fun professional development opportunity, it may be difficult for him or her to take advantage of it, because of issues such as the need to find childcare. Online or correspondence classes can be a great way to get your summer professional development done from home and on your own time. No matter what the circumstances, do not be afraid to ask for help in making PD work for you.
#1 Take a Masterclass or Learner's Edge Course
I have no endorsement deal with Learner’s Edge, but I have taken many classes from them on classroom management, teacher leadership, dealing with parents, and so on. I loved these classes because each included a book to read and the opportunity to reflect on how to use the ideas presented in one’s own classroom. The work was always meaningful and manageable, time-wise.
Additionally, I have a FREE Building Vocabulary for Success on SAT and ACT Exams Masterclass open for enrollment! In my 3-part masterclass, you'll learn how to expand and enrich students' vocabulary knowledge and help them cultivate skills that contribute to success on the SAT and ACT exams. At the end of the course you'll receive a Certificate of Participation.
Finally, Sadlier has a variety of free online masterclasses teachers can attend ON DEMAND! Check out some of the courses below! Click on the the images to learn more and register.
#2 Find an Accountability Buddy
I love reading and discussing new professional development books, but I need to be held accountable or the book will sit on my nightstand unread. That’s why I always enlist at least one teacher to read the book with me.
The success I had with an accountability buddy checking in on my reading progress, gave me the idea to implement an accountability buddy in my PD efforts! Ask an online educator friend, colleague, or mentor teacher to become your Professional Development Buddy👭! Ideally, you and your PD buddy can complete the same professional development opportunities so you two can collaborate and discuss aspects of the class together. HOWEVER, an accountability buddy will still work if you decide to take different professional development courses.
#3 Listen to Podcasts
I am a huge podcast listener and between Penny Kittle’s BookLove Foundation podcast and Colby Sharp and Travis Yonker’s The Yarn, I learn all about teaching techniques, great books, and authors in less than an hour of listening a week.
Teachers can turn on a podcast while driving, gardening, cooking, or cleaning to catch up on educational trends and new books.
#4 Take Part in an Online Challenge
There are many online challenges— my current favorite is Donalyn Miller’s Book-a-Day challenge. While I always fall very short of the goal, I love the challenge and seeing what other colleagues are reading. I also love the #ClassroomBookaDay challenge created by Jillian Heise. Use these summer months to check out the resources on Heise Reads Recommends and to beef up your classroom library so you're ready to participate in the #ClassroomBookaDay challenge when school starts in the fall!
#5 Attend Webinars
What I love about webinars is that teachers can attend or watch when they want, without leaving the house! So much new learning can take place with colleagues around the globe, without a plane ticket required.
Check out Sadlier's virtual events to watch recorded webinars, video interviews with experts, and more.
#6 Join Book Clubs
My good friend Courtney started a teacher book club a few years ago, and I love it because it pushes me to read books I would not pick up on my own.
Don't let the lack of a teacher book club keep you from participating in collective reading. The Nerdy Book Club is one of my favorite online organizations and I have met many new friends and colleagues through interacting with the club online.
#7 Attend an Institution or In-Person Workshop
I have saved my favorite idea for last. I have attended workshops with the Ohio University Ping Institute, Ohio State Humanities Council, and several of my friends have been a part of the Royal Shakespeare Company or Holocaust Institute summer programs.
From travel opportunities to free resources, these institutes are a great way to meet new colleagues and become re-energized as both a teacher and learner.
Bonus– Using PD to Become an Educational Leader
Whether you are a novice educator or a seasoned veteran, taking the time to consider ways to push yourself to move to the next level is a great way to plan what professional development ideas would be most beneficial in helping you reach your goals. Download the 5 Ways to Become an Educational Leader Tip Sheet & Assessment to get ideas for growing into a leader in education and an assessment to gauge where you are at in your growth.
Professional development helps educators improve their professional knowledge, gain new skills, and set examples for students. Make yourself a priority this summer and hone your skills by participating in various professional development opportunities! Download the 7 Quick and Fun Professional Development Ideas for the Summer Tip Sheet now.