Top Five Ways to Re-Energize Your Teaching for the Next School Year
Summertime is a great time to re-energize your teaching career by taking some action and being proactive for the next school year. Many teachers keep notes on what worked and what didn’t. Others promise to read an inspirational educational book like “Teaching Like Champion”, and others set to start a masters program in a new area of education.
As a leader in the teacher preparation arena and consultant for school districts, my recommendation is that teachers begin to think about summertime as an opportunity to review their credentials and dig deeper into their area of expertise. Teachers can begin this process by creating a plan ahead of time and perhaps even engage a peer group. Below find the 8 recommendations for a summer professional development plan:
1. Explore and seek licensure requirements and college/university level programs in your area of expertise.
a.If you are looking to change careers and you would like to find out how to obtain initial licensure look for universities with masters programs in the area you like (e.g. PreK-2, 1-6, moderate disabilities, ESL, etc.).
i. Ensure that they are program leading to initial licensure
ii. Ensure that they are state approved
iii. Ensure that they support you in taking the teacher licensure tests (e.g. MTEL, Praxis, etc.)
iv. Read the fine print for the details on completing your student teaching/full practicum required for licensure
b. If you already have an initial license but would like an additional initial licensure in a new area look for universities education programs that offer multiple types of programs. Your goal is to increase your training and make yourself more competitive when seeking a new position. For example, you have an elementary license but would like to add a license to work with students with moderate disabilities.
c. You already have initial license and you are between your 3 to 5 year of teaching, you need to seek out Professional licensure. Programs towards meeting professional licensure requirements can be found at the district level and university programs. Ensure that the program is approved by the state and that it meets the requirements in the same area as you initial license. For example you have an initial license in elementary education and now you need your professional licensure in elementary education to continue to be licensed. The courses are designed to take you more in depth in your area of licensure and experience and explore the latest innovations and pedagogy in the field.
2. Seek a professional organization in your field and read the latest white papers, position papers published that year, or perhaps read a few research-based articles on a topic of your interest from their educational journals. Share those articles with you peers and create a “book club” of sorts where you can all go deeper and do inquiry on what it would be like to implement this practice in your class next year (get really excited about a new research-based practice).
a. Make a plan of action and develop a few lessons that you can share with your peers
b. Identify ways to measure progress of students to ensure they learned what you intend for them to learn.
c. Plan to visit your peers classrooms once the school year begins so that you can give each other feedback
(Professional Organizations include: National Education Association (NEA), International Literacy Association (ILA), National Association of School Psychology (NASP), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and there are many others.
3. Sign up for webinars via the professional organizations or non-for profit organizations. There are many of these that are pre-recorded and free access in many cases. For example the New England Regional Educational Library http://www.relnei.org/events/event-archive/mtss-developing-a-culturally-and-linguistically-appropriate-model-for-ells.html has many of supporting English learners with and without disabilities. Another is webinars from the RTI Action Network who has video webinars on many topics related to helping students with learning and attention issues in schools doing innovative school-wide methods http://www.rtinetwork.org/professional/videos/podcasts.
One last example are those published by the Institute of Education Science What Works Clearing house (http://www.rtinetwork.org/professional/videos/podcasts), Success at the Core (http://successatthecore.com/), and the IRIS Modules from Vanderbilt University who has more than 100 online modules on every area of instruction and socio emotional learning http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/news-events-category/press-releases/. Create a toolkit that you can start the year with.
4. Sign up for Education Week (www.edweek.org) and other education news outlets that let you keep abreast with changes in the field. You can do this via email or Facebook (my favorite). You can follow their recent articles, position papers, real stories from the classrooms, and upcoming conferences.
5. Develop a plan of materials and supplies that you will need this year and prepare a Donors Choose Grant that can launch the first week of class when your community and parents are excited to start the year on the right foot. The application is very short and the rewards are many and long term for your teacher materials toolkit. Last year, Google supported all DonorsChoose grants the first day of school in many district across MA (www.donorschoose.org).
6. Create a class webpage or blog via a school district learning management system or a free blog page.
a. Google Sites can help you create a free one or visit other places such as: Weebly for Education (http://education.weebly.com/), School Rack, Kafafa among many others.
b. Blogs can be another options that is free as well. Visit WordPress at wordpress.com or Blogger at www.blogger.com.
c. Learn one technology tool that can improve your teaching. For example you can explore mybrainshark.com to spruce up their teaching presentations.
7. Explore national and local conferences coming to your area and have a plan to share with your principal to get support. For example, one coming to Boston soon is The Building Learning Communities Educatoin Conference 2015 in July (http://novemberlearning.com/blc-education-conference-2015/)
8. Identify new resources for parents for your welcome back packet/information. For example share information from Understood, a new website supported by 15 organizations and foundation whose goal is to help millions of parents of children and young adults struggling with learning and attention issues. This website has a new Parent Toolkit that teacher may find helpful to send home (www.understood.org)
I hope you find these helpful to keep you engaged and ready for new students who need you next year!
Claudia is a Full Professor of Education and Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Claudia is a researcher, consultant, and teacher educator committed to addressing the needs of bilingual students who are learning English and have a disability.