Wednesday, July 9, 2014

June is over. Now What? Last Minute PD Goals for July

Fireworks and 4th of July celebrations have passed.  Finally, I feel like summer has started, but at the same time it is quickly slipping away.  June is always a hectic month, and unfortunately, flies by all too fast.  Now that my head is cleared of last year's busyness and the idea of next school year is beginning to loom over my head,  I feel like I'm ready to fully embrace and explore professional development experiences that will lead to another year of growth and learning. While I want to maximize my time with family, friends, and enjoying the outdoors, I still have a few items on my professional development check list that I want to complete as well.  The "Back-To-School" sales and signs might already be posted, which send many of us into panic mode, but it is important to note we still have JULY!  There is still time to fit in more fun and isn't learning fun?  

1. Attend a Conference

I was fortunate enough to assist a friend, Shawn, in an educational technology conference, teaching Creativity with iPads.  While I was not an official attendee, I was incredibly inspired by his passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for reaching students.  I was able to take away new knowledge about apps and gained a few new relationships with other dynamic educators who are incorporating amazing strategies into their classrooms using technology as a tool to share student work and collaborate in the classroom and beyond. Connecting with people at conferences, hearing their stories, and realizing what else is possible through the use of creativity and connectivity is empowering!  The company that runs these conferences, EdTechTeacher is incredible and so willing to share resources with teachers.  If you ever have a chance to attend a tech conference, this is the company to consider. 

There are still countless conferences to attend, and even if you cannot attend, following Twitter hashtags can make obtaining resources possible.  If I weren't teaching summer school, I would definitely be attending:
2. Listen to a Podcast

Okay, like many other teachers out there, I am a self-proclaimed nerd, but sometimes I try and conceal my nerddom and have found a great way to do it at the gym.  PODCASTS!  While attempting to build up a sweat on the elliptical this summer, I am definitely listening to podcasts created by Jeff Bradbury and his team at  From discussions on technology and leadership in the school, these discussions range in length and focus on any interest a teacher may have.  The podcasts are informative, entertaining, and created by people who are devoted to improving the quality of education.  

3. Take a Graduate Course or Webinar

Technology has provided us with new ways of learning in which we do not even have to leave our homes.  Online classes from reputable institutions are making learning more convenient and accessible for teachers with children and families, who coach, or who are simply off pursuing other adventures in the summer.  Let's face it, we are all busy all the time, but online courses can make learning available on our terms.  This summer, I have been taking a few graduate courses to finish up a masters and endorsement, so my PD schedule has certainly been full, but there are other ways of gaining knowledge in a particular area, and it is free.  Webinars are becoming increasingly popular and a wide-variety of organizations are beginning to offer them to teachers.  The, and EdTechTeacher are just a few places to look for short and targeted professional development experiences.  When all the final papers are in for these last few classes I am taking, I cannot wait to dive into the world of Webinars!

4. Join a Twitter Chat

While some chats have taken a break for the summer, many educational Twitter chats are still abuzz with educators seeking to connect, collaborate, and learn from one another.  I am a devoted fan of #engchat and co-moderate #engsschat during the school year.  #engsschat tweets on the last Monday of every month from 6-7pm CST.  While I love this community, this summer, I have been trying to participate in a few different chats to expand my PLN especially while I have the time.  I have found myself drawn into #elachat (the first and last Tuesdays of every month at 7pm CST) and #iledchat (Mondays at 9pm CST).  The network of enthusiastic, intelligent, and inspiring teachers on Twitter is encouraging, and there are chats for every discipline/level.  The resources that people share are so incredibly valuable and have reminded me to look beyond just the scope of my classroom and community.  Education is about preparing students for a future that does not exist, and I am reminded of that every time I interact with teachers on Twitter.  #MyPLNRocks

5. Read an Education Related Book

Wow, the number of education books that I want to read is LONG!  Because of graduate courses and wanting to read a list of YA books to talk about with students in the fall, I have narrowed down my book selection to Teaching Argument Writing by George Hillocks, Jr., Falling in Love with Close Reading  by Christopher Lehman and Kate Roberts, and Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching by Meenoo Rami.  All three focus on different topics and are meant to influence different facets of teaching.  I am excited to dig into these texts and take away new ideas and a fresh perspective for the fall. Again, with so many great books being written by leaders in our field, there are many options for all of us to read this summer.  In addition to education related texts, this summer I am reading my way through the Abe Lincoln Award books.  My students love the books that come from this list, and I love being able to talk texts with them.  When we can have conversations with students about texts, we instill and reinforce love of reading! 

During the school year, we often lack the time to read books that do not relate to education or our content areas.  We often forgo reading for pleasure in order to read and provide important feedback to our students' written assignments and projects.  While this is valuable time spent, it often leaves us drained and wanting to devour a long list of books that we continue to put off until the summer months are here.  Well, the summer months are here!  

While the list of professional development experiences that I still want to pursue this summer is long, it is important to take this time to relax, catch up with loved ones, and take a step away from school, too! Recharging the batteries is equally important as learning and growing as an educator. In fact, the act of relaxing allows us to continue to passionately and enthusiastically tackle the challenges that the 2015-2016 school year will inevitably bring. Alright, July... I'm ready.
Tweets by @Steph_SMac