6 Things Teachers Must Try This Summer!

Each year Teachers face the same cultural dilemma sitting around the pool, or at the Memorial Day barbecue  we hear....

It must be so nice to be a teacher!  What are you going to do with all this extra time this summer?

I don't know about you, but these types of comments and questions grate against my nerves.  Teachers across the world know how much time they put in all year (especially the summer) to improve their craft and become the best teacher they can for the students they serve.

With that being said, each summer I have dreams of learning, growing, and relaxing with my friends and family, but before I know it summer is over and my checklist is check less.

We all have great intentions to take time to better ourselves, and in my experiences these ideas will bring you the best bang for your buck.


1. Go to an EdCamp

EdCamps are individually organized professional development days where teachers across the surrounding area come together to share all the amazing things they are doing in their classroom.

Since the original Edcamp in 2010 there have been over 700 conferences around the world in 25 countries. In the first few months following that first session in Philadelphia, the Edcamp movement grew and flourished in a grassroots manner. Each Edcamp is independently organized and hosted, is free to participants, bringing together passionate educators for a day of learning and growth. The conferences are participant-driven with the sessions developed and facilitated by the teachers who are attending and leverage social media to involve remote attendees.

Time and again I hear teachers complain that professional development is irrelevant and the presenters are out of touch.  The beautiful thing about EdCamp is the presenters are YOU, and the content is what you want to learn about!  To find a EdCamp located near you go to www.edcamp.org and go to one!


2. Read Innovators Mindset

One of the most common teacher goals for the summer time is a reading list, since I've started my career I have set a goal to read 258 books, and I've read 11. When it comes to a book that you must read, not just make a plan to read is George Couros's Innovators Mindset.

George has honed the incredible ability to engage, entertain, and enlighten through his years of leadership and writing. His book The Innovators Mindset is a MUST for educators and Instructional Leaders! George will inspire you with heartfelt stories from teachers across the world, and challenge you to focus on freeing your stakeholders to be innovative thinkers. This is not just an EdTech Book, this is curriculum and instruction in the 21st Century. If you are a fan of Thomas Murray, Eric Sheninger, or Dr. Ken Robinson you will love George Couros. Check out his blog at georgecouros.ca.


3. Go to a Conference

EdCamps are great small meetings to share and grow as a teacher or staff, but when it comes to going deeper into a topic, content, or strategy you need to attend a conference.  A few conferences I would highly recommend and have attended either this year or in the past are; the AVID Summer Institute and the Superior Tech 4 Teachers conference.

Superior Schools and Plato Academy invite you to one of the most sought after educational technology conferences in Florida. Superior Tech For Teachers (ST4T) is back again this year, after popular demand. We have worked very hard to put together an exciting learning event that will allow educators to learn how to effectively utilize various new technologies in their classrooms, in order to create an enhanced student learning experience.

Superior Tech 4 Teachers or ST4T, this nation wide conference is located in Clearwater, FL from June 15-17.  Some features of ST4T are

  • Microsoft MIE Teacher Academy – Take the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) training session at ST4T
  • Robotics & Coding – attend our robotics and coding seminars and visit the robotics classroom to learn from experienced students and teachers.
  • Digital publishing in the classroom – our expert presenters will show you step-by-step how to build student and teacher created eBooks in the classroom.
  • Augmented Reality – don’t miss the opportunity to watch how AR is used in the classroom by leading EdTech experts such as Brad Waid, Dr. Katrina Keene, and Katie Ann Wilson.
  • Learning Spaces– explore how space, physical or virtual, can have a significant impact on learning.
  • Student presenters – ST4T will offer numerous sessions where capable and eloquent students will be leading presentations.

AVID Summer Institute is another amazing conference that will leave you feeling recharged, inspired, and ready to fill your students with the passion you have for learning.

Summer Institute is AVID's annual professional learning event for AVID members. More than 39,000 new and veteran educators come each year, to learn the latest in AVID methodologies and strategies to successfully implement AVID in their schools.

As a committed educator with roadblocks, you may ask: What can AVID do for you? AVID will coach you to believe in your students, their futures, and reflect on why you do what you do. Be the difference in the lives of your students. Attend #AVIDSI16! Registration is open! You can also earn continuing education credit at Summer Institute!

Honolulu June 6-8
Tampa (Closed) June 13-15
Minneapolis (Closed) June 14-16
San Diego 1 (Closed) June 21-23
Dallas (Closed) June 22-24
Anaheim June 28-30
Orlando July 6-8
Denver July 6-8
Sacramento (Closed) July 11-13
Philadelphia July 18-20
San Antonio July 27-29
San Diego 2-Mission Valley August 1-3

Why is AVID a great program?  From a content area teacher the AVID program is a collection of research based best practices that have been compiled by some of the best minds in teaching and learning across the world.  AVID is not a set of standards, or a specific way of teaching, but more about utilizing these best practices. To find out more about AVID and AVID Summer Institute go to www.avid.org


4. Take your Family on a Day Trip to learn about area landmarks

One of the most powerful ways to connect with your students is by connecting your content or class assignments to local attractions.  Here in the bustling metropolis of Lecanto, Florida (google Lecanto Florida and laugh) we have a few awesome places that are known across the state.  One of them is the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, this state park is one of the few places in the country that we can view the West Indian Manatee in their natural environment.

What amazing jewel that every student in your building knows about, but maybe you haven't explored.  Take a day trip this summer with your family to a local state park, or family festival that you've never made time for. The question is what local attractions do you have near you? Check out www.roadtrippers.com, this site allows you to locate hotels, RV camp sites, attractions, natural wonders, and weird stuff.  You can map your trip to maximize your sites which you can bring back to the classroom next year.  A huge added bonus is your children will be able to learn and grow with you!



5. Attend a Twitter Chat

One of the most powerful professional development tools to come out in the past few years comes from a very unexpected place. Twitter Chat!  A twitter chat is a set time and hashtag where people with common interests come together to share ideas and best practices.  There are literally thousands of twitter chats going on throughout a week covering every topic from EdTech to 3rd Grade Math!  One of the most daunting aspects of joining a twitter chat is finding when and what hashtag is best for me.

Working with a site like www.participate.com  can break down each chat that occurs during a week across the world.  You can either search for a topic that interests you, or you can click on the subject area or grade you work with to find chats pertinent to you.

A great chat for all that are interested in teaching and learning is #edtechafterdark which occurs Mondays at 10PM eastern. Just go to twitter.com and search #edtechafterdark


6. Write a Blog Post

According to a study done by Yahoo, there are over 12 million people blogging across the country. A study in 2013 stated that over 128 million people are reading and making decisions based on  what they read on blogs.  We all have ideas throughout the day that we put off because we don't trust our instincts, or are our own worst critic.  It can be a pretty scary idea to start a blog, I know Alex, Dan, and I took months to start this blog.  You don't have to start  a blog to share your reflective process or just something you're passionate about.  We would love to share your blog post here on EdTechAfterDark.

Dean Shareski, a respected and decorated instructional leader, shares that a sure-fire way to improve teachers or create great teachers can start with giving them a blog, and requiring them to follow five other blogs.  This process can expedite the sharing of best practices and perfect the reflective process.  I know for most teachers the idea of blogging causes the proverbial eye roll.  I can assure you, as cliché as it sounds, blogging will improve your practice and the way you reflect on what worked and what didn't.

If you would like to share your blog post on EdTechAfterDark message me on Twitter, @MrLeonard8, and the @EdTechAfterDark twitter account.

If you liked this post or any of what we share like, and share across your PLN!