Summer break. These two words are sweet music to the ears of students and teachers alike. With summer comes the long-awaited, well-deserved break from getting up early, making sure you get to class on time, getting homework done (or, in the shoes of a teacher, getting homework graded and passed back), attending after-school activities, etc. And of course, there are the plans of sleeping in, going to the pool, catching up on reading great books, taking a road trip to a favorite vacation spot, and, probably a favorite among all teachers, having time to do absolutely nothing at all.
Then, in what seems to be the blink of an eye, the end of July and the beginning of August approach, and the inevitable reality of back-to-school starts to creep back into view. Thoughts of getting your classroom ready for the school year, planning lessons, chaotic schedules, grading, teacher observations and evaluations, renewing your teaching license, and all the other stresses that go along with being a teacher are front and center in your mind.
So, as a teacher, what can you do in the summer to help cut back on that stress and make the upcoming school year a little easier on yourself?
- Take a class or two for your license renewal so you don’t have to juggle quite as much during the school year. There are a number Continuing Education classes that you can take during the summer months through either a local university or online. You can also take these classes through an accredited institution for a lower rate than a university. You can check with your state’s Department of Education to see what institutions are accredited and which courses of study can go towards your license renewal.
- Stay in the routine of teaching by tutoring or instructing at a summer camp program. If you plan on doing some freelance tutoring, local libraries are the perfect setting! They offer a quiet environment that’s study-friendly, and they have a number of resources readily available for you and your students, whatever their needs might be. If summer camp is more your thing, you may be able to find school districts that offer a number of different programs for their students. Some of these programs may even offer scholarship opportunities for needy or low-income students who thrive in such environments. Or, you can look for a great and unique experience for students like Camp Invention, where participants explore science, technology, and engineering through creative and inventive hands-on activities (Learn more!).
- Prep materials for a new math or literacy center activity in your classroom. If you teach at the elementary level, you can repurpose old board games, such as Candyland, to reinforce fluency and literacy skills, or you can make math tubs that focus around specific skills like sorting pattern block shapes, ways to make 10, number sequencing, etc. If you teach at the secondary level, you can prep book club activities around novels that you read in your English/Language Arts classes.
- Check out teaching blogs and resource sites (like Teacher’s Notebook) to get ideas for activities and supplemental materials. Then, incorporate them into your lesson plans to enhance student engagement. The great thing about teaching blogs and resource sites is that they lead you to additional blogs and resources. Just do a simple web search for “primary school teaching blogs” or “secondary school teaching blogs” to get started. You can also start your search through some of the best education blogs of 2014 at Top Masters in Education.
A good chunk of the summer is behind us now, but it’s not too late to squeeze some of this stuff in while you have some time to spare. Trying to get extra work in while you’re juggling kids, parents, and that whole Common Core thing can be rough. My advice: save yourself some stress, and tackle some of it now.
Happy summer, and good luck next year!
Post by: Ashley Kulcsar, a former teacher and School Partner Account Specialist at OverDrive.