Just a month or two ago, you were knee-deep in the cycle of planning, lesson delivery, and assessment. It was tough to find a free moment to learn something to improve your practice. Maybe summers are just as busy—but hopefully you’re carving out a little time for beaches, barbecue, baseball… and some professional learning.
Here are five simple ways to make the most of your summer weeks so that you’re rested and inspired when the start of the 2013-14 school year rolls around…
Tune in to Teaching Channel
I’ve yet to find a Teaching Channel video that didn’t help me in some way. Their vault of hundreds of videos is rich with thought-provoking ideas and strategies that cover all grades and subjects. (Confession: when I plan to browse videos for twenty minutes or so on a lazy summer Sunday, I often wind up exploring for a couple of hours.) Here are a few great ones to get you started:
Learning is magical and mysterious. It’s hard to know when we’re getting better and how we’ve done it. I know that I struggled when I first started teaching. In particular, it was hard for me to manage my class of diverse learners. But after seven years of teaching, I had developed a classroom management system that felt like it had the right balance of kind and firm.
I had improved my classroom management skills, but how did I do it? When did the change happen? Thinking back to my teaching experience, I can pinpoint two things that helped me improve my practice: making mistakes and receiving feedback.
As a 1st grade math teacher, I never thought I was teaching the same skills as high school math teachers. But as I’ve gotten to know the Common Core State Standards, the math practice standards have shown me that effective math teaching looks remarkably similar across grade levels. Through the practice standards, K-12 students will develop skills around problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, representation, and communication. Regardless of the grade level, focusing on these standards helps students feel comfortable explaining their thought processes, learning from others, and building conceptual understanding.
Teaching Channel recently partnered with the American Federation of Teachers to create a series of videos that show how two of the Common Core Math Practice Standards progress throughout the grades. The teachers we filmed for this series are part of Thinking Mathematics, an AFT professional development program that was developed by teachers working with researchers to learn what is known about how children learn mathematics and bring that knowledge into the classroom.
Common Core Standards ask students to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others in math; ask and answer questions about key details in a text; and participate in collaborative conversations about topics and texts. Students are expected to explain their thinking and build on others’ talk in conversation.
But what if your students don’t speak English?
When teachers shift into Common Core Standards mode this fall, we must remember that although the standards are common, the students we teach are not. Read more
By now, you’ve probably worked through the piles of papers and exams that needed grading. You’ve taken a stab at cleaning your classroom, mostly putting things into random boxes. You’re ready to let the tension from your neck and shoulders fall away.
Maybe you’re looking forward to some travel or perhaps you will finally find the time to get to the books that have piled up on your bedside table. No matter what your start-of-summer-break tradition is, I hope you’ll consider making reflection a part of it this year.
After all, summer can provide you with the opportunity to make the most of what you’ve accomplished this year—and make next year even better.