So, I rushed to work this morning to write this post. I know, it should have been posted last night, but I just could not make myself do it. I sat at the computer for 2 hours and looked heavily at the screen typing ideas, writing outlines, brainstorming, surfing the internet for ideas…and nothing. Then it dawned on me. I am getting tired. My year as an Instructional Coach has been AMAZING, but I am in fact a first year coach. I don’t have the experience to just sit down and know at this point and time exactly what to write. I began to reflect and remember that sometimes as a classroom teacher I had felt the same way. Some call it “burn” out, or “brain fried”, but I just think we have used all that we know to make our jobs easier. Which brings me to what my mind begin to wonder towards yesterday, summer. Yes, summer. Not in the way you may think, like lying by the pool and doing nothing, but instead looking forward to learning new ideas for the next year. Yep, I truly look forward to all of the learning I can feed off of in the summer, because it helps grow my confidence and plans for the upcoming year. Luckily, from the frustration of yesterday’s writing block, I thought I could brain storm some ideas on sources for summer professional development.
The first and most obvious source for professional development is within your district or at your Region center. Not all districts provide a rich selection of courses offered free to their teacher, but mine does. Start by speaking with your campus coach for ideas. I have already received a wonderful beginning list of courses that are “must” attends from my great leader (Jessie Miller – follower her on Instagram if you don’t already). If you don’t have a coach on your campus then sit down with your principal or assistant principal and ask for suggestions. Your administrative team is a wealth of knowledge you should be utilizing. I realize that administration on some campuses are not as fortunate as amazing as they are on my campus. So you next choice would be to speak to other teachers on your campus and discuss what type of classes they are taking from the district in the summer. I always found it helpful to attend summer PD with coworkers. This allowed me someone to brain storm what type of work I would do with what I was learning about. Whichever avenue you go down, just look for what your district offers.
If you don’t find anything appealing within your district, your next course of action might be to look towards professional books. Every summer I stack up a selection of books that I find will empower me for the following year. If you are not a reader, just pick ONE to conquer. However, as an ELA teacher, I would question my lack of love for reading and begin to set a goal for yourself to read more than one book during the summer. Design a pacing guide for yourself to complete the work in a realistic time frame with some reflection time in between books. Some titles I might suggest are: THE ART OF READING (BIG book!), THE ART OF WRITING (BIG book!), GRAPHICA (easy read), CONFERRING WITH READERS (easy read), HOW DO YOU TEACH WRITING? (easy read), any of JEFF ANDERSON’s books (fun and easy to read), and THE UNSTOPPABLE WRITING TEACHER (easy read). I could go on and on and on, but I think it is important to seek out a book on your own. I have a tendency to select a book that helps me grow a strength during the school year and books that challenge me during the summer. That way I am not struggling and feeling like I am drowning during the school year and it is easier to process information during the summer.
Another outlet for summer professional development could be attending a conference or institute. A teacher on our campus asked me if she could attend the International Literacy Association conference this summer. I told her I would mention it to our principal, and now there are six staff members attending this summer conference. If she had not come to me and asked, I might not have asked the principal and none of us would have attended. I realize that not all campuses are Title One and can afford to send staff members to conferences; however, think outside of the box. You could look for grants, speak to your PTA/PTO, or speak with a tax consultant to see if expenses can be deducted as options to fund a summer out of district learning experience.
Last but not least, create your own professional learning community, if you don’t already have a learning community. It could be your current grade level team or just a group of teacher friends. If you don’t have a group of learners that currently surround you, reach out on social media and ask if other teachers in your area with common levels of interest in learning would be willing to meet to discuss (not complain) your teaching craft. You could also create a Facebook page to exchange ideas. I currently belong to several – Reading/Writing Units of Study (on Facebook), Kindergarten Teachers Unite!, Fostering Independent Writers – to name a few. These groups will answer questions that you might have, pose discussions you have not even thought of, and provide resources to make your life easier. Twitter is another great PD outlet. There is a Teacher’s College Twitter chat every Wednesday night. If you follow people who participate on these Twitter chats they are great about advertising additional opportunities on Twitter. Search your grade level on Twitter and I think you will be surprised what you will find.
February is here, Spring Break is closely approaching and sooner than later the end of the school year will be a week away. Start thinking and planning now how you are willing to stretch yourself this summer. I promise you won’t regret it.
MAKING IT A READING AND WRITING – TASTIC WEEK!