Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer Opportunities

      Summer vacation. Two words sure to elicit a sigh from every teacher I know. Seriously, by the end of the school year everyone needs a break, not just the students. Summer vacation. Two words that fill me with anticipation, not only for the fun opportunities it offers but for the time to recharge myself professionally. Summer vacation. Two words that help recenter teachers, especially after a difficult year. For me, this break from the classroom is more a break from students. It's a time for me to consider new ideas and look for ways to improve as a teacher.
      My advice to my first-year teacher niece was to take the first weeks off and not really think about school until August. Decompress and refuel yourself. As a first grade teacher, one in a looping school, she has enough to handle during the school year and constantly gives out. She needs to spend time relaxing before entering the fray again. My advice to myself has always been about the same. When August comes, get into school mode.
     This year, as in other years, my summer is filled with opportunities. I'm in a book study reading George Couros's book The Innovator's Mindset. Last night, our first meeting, was filled with quality discussion about what it means to be innovative in the classroom and how to encourage colleagues to utilize this type of mindset more in their approach to students and learning. It was good. It made me think. And whenever I think in professional settings, I always get new ideas of things I can try in my classroom.
      Another opportunity for growth I'm taking advantage of is a three-day writing seminar offered by the local Writing Project group. I took a similar session a few years back and those days improved how I taught personal narratives. I'm looking forward to the same happening. Again, in these settings I never fail to be inspired with new ideas to experiment with in the classroom.
      Then in the end of July another summer growth challenge faces me with the English teachers' conference. This year Meenoo Rami, author of the book Thrive 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching, will be the keynote. I've interacted a bit with Rami setting up some promotional events and find her to be a thoughtful person whom I'm looking forward to learning from professionally. However, this conference also gives practical ideas for new approaches to use in the classroom. I've attended this event for the past three years and it never fails to inspire me. We've had James Burke, Penny Kittle, and Kelly Gallagher as speakers the years I've gone. How could a person not be inspired? These conferences and speakers have transformed my approach to the classroom.
       Summer vacation. Two words that promise a break from the classroom but so much more than that. It's a time I can renew myself professionally, learn some things, and take some time out to have a little fun. It doesn't take much to get you thinking. So this summer vacation my advice to myself is simple: enjoy the down time but use it to ruminate some, thinking about new approaches to the classroom. Summer vacation = summer opportunities. They can make all the difference.

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