During my twelve years of teaching secondary social studies, I would voice an opinion that was usually a very unpopular one with my colleagues. My sentiment was “summer break is too long.”
I am not sure how well this position had aged, but why I held it is still very clear to me. Simply put, I felt that I experienced a professional lag in the summer. Moreover, as the start of the school year approached, getting that teacher swagger back wasn’t always easy. In other words, the phenomenon is known as “summer slide” had kicked in.
If you can visualize the game board images on the classic, Chutes, and Ladders, you may recall that there were slides of various lengths scattered across the board. Likewise, over summer break there will be a variety of moments that can contribute to the “slide effect.” Think about your previous summer breaks and scan your activities that induced this impact. Please note that whatever you identify in the past, or predict will be slide activities this summer, don’t abandon those! Instead, balance those off with practices that will minimize the slide or, ideally, reverse it.
Just as there are chutes on the game board, ladders of different lengths are also scattered across it. Summer break is often identified as a time to refine or extend professional practices and engage with ladder activities. To support this approach, the list below identifies multiple opportunities to balance or reverse summer slide.
- Take a Class: It is a golden era for class options. The number of organizations offering summer courses is staggering. Likewise, class formats – online, in-person, synchronous, asynchronous – can also meet your needs. Some options include courses and workshops from the National Humanities Center, EdTech Teacher, Udemy, and WISSIT are just a few.
- Listen to Podcasts: On the beach, in a hammock, gardening, or in traffic, podcasts provide a flexible format for your engagement. I love podcasts because of their potential to inform, ideate, and connect (I often reach out to podcast hosts for more information. Check out education podcasts on the Education Podcast Network and at the Learning Ladders awards.
- Stay in Contact: The amount of time you spend with colleagues during the school year most likely outnumbers the amount you spend with friends and some family members. The summer is a great time to continue the conversations you had and start thinking about the next school year. If social media is your bag, check out these 44 Twitter chats and search Facebook for education groups to join.
- Attend a Conference: Conferences are back! But if you are not able to attend a live conference, there are valuable online options to get involved with too. A great option even if you can’t attend live is that by registering you get access to the recorded sessions. Take a look at these options ISTE Live, Visible Learning Conference, and the Global Teaching Dialogue. I know I have two I am scheduled to attend this summer!
Look to Summer 2023: Yes, I know it is a year away, but it is never too early to identify possibilities in your calendar. For example, I listed the 2023 ISTE Live conference because I don’t want to miss it.
- Also, organizations that offer summer (often paid) opportunities do so in January and February. Don’t miss these NEH Institutes, CSPAN Fellows, Smithsonian Programs, and others, for next summer and get paid to learn!
At the heart of all these options is the aspect of joy. Do activities that nurture that feeling about your work. Professional learning is best when it is exciting and triggers light bulb moments. To stay with the “ladder” metaphor, sometimes we need one to change a bulb. Picking the right ladder is key. Have a well-deserved and joyful summer.
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