1. Read.Of course the reading teacher is going to recommend reading a book, but it’s a great time to read something that’s been on your “must-read” list for a while. Whether it’s a non-fiction book focusing on your content-area or a fiction book just for fun, it can be a great way to relax, learn something new or just escape. Here is a must-read list for teachers, books every teacher should read, New York Times best-sellers and Barnes & Noble best-sellers. If reading a book makes you feel like you’re doing homework, try an audiobook, magazine or newspaper. Alternatively, catch up on Education Week, TEACH Magazine, NEA Today, ASCD, Teaching Tolerance or more informal blogs.
Some of the blogs I can't live without? Cult of Pedagogy, Alice Keeler and MindShift.
2. Get ideas.Find inspiration on Pinterest. Browse through the “Education” category or follow respected pinners. (Here's a list of educators to get you started!) Create boards to categorize your pins, and mine TeachersPayTeachers to get some free or low-cost resources, or just inspiration for new ideas to try in your classroom. Use the left sidebar to check out what’s trending, or filter your searches as you scroll down. (I always check out the “Free” resources first.)
Not Pinterested? Take your brainstorming offline and explore a program your school already has that you might not be that familiar with. Check with your tech people or other educators to see what their most-used, can’t-live-without resources are in your content area and take time to check them out when you have some time.
3. Test out some of those new ideas.Try out some of the new programs you’ve discovered or test them out on your own kids. There are a number of summer school programs, intramural activities or faith-based initiatives where you could donate your time and expertise. Not only is it a way to have fun with kids outside of an academic setting, but it also gives you an opportunity to try out that new growth-mindset approach or personalized learning strategy. It also allows you to do what we strive to do on a daily basis as educators: Make a difference in the lives of young people!
4. Get educated.There are so many opportunities for professional development in the summer. Whether it’s a well-renowned national conference or a local workshop, there are plenty of avenues to acquire new ideas from experienced professionals. Check out your local education association, service cooperative or consortium. The easiest, most affordable way to participate in professional development is online. EdWeb offers webinars on various topics, and in some cases, you can earn CEUs by attending the live session or taking a quiz after viewing a recording. Recordings are generally available afterward if you can’t make the scheduled session.
5. Get ahead.Is there a mindless activity that consumes a lot of your time during the school year? Copying? Laminating? Printing? Save yourself the stress and do it now! That way, you can dedicate more time to ideas from your reading or professional development and effectively implementing a new project or idea in your class for the fall.
I would like to add a sixth suggestion to do absolutely nothing. Summer is a time to rest, relax and recharge in order to be the best educator you can for your next group of students. Getting fresh air, exercising, doing something for yourself – whatever allows you to de-stress and rejuvenate.
Summer is the best time to start a graduate degree or certificate program. American College of Education offers a wide variety of graduate-level programs in education that will hone your skills.