Summer vacation is certainly an important time for educators to recharge their batteries and catch a brief respite from the grind of the school year. Additionally, summer is a great time for educators to take advantage of the additional time that they may finally have on their hands for some professional learning. For many of us, our school schedules allow little opportunity for any meaningful professional development time between Labor Day and June. For others, the schedule of school-year professional development offerings that we can access in our districts may be a bit underwhelming.
With all of this in mind, the summer break provides the perfect opportunity for educators who are looking for meaningful professional learning opportunities. As an Assistant Superintendent for Learning, here are 5 meaningful PD opportunities to extend learning and build momentum before heading into a new school year.
1. Attend (or start) a summer Edcamp
For the third consecutive summer, our district will host an Edcamp each Tuesday morning in Burlington, MA. These informal sessions are open to educators from Burlington and beyond who feel like gathering to lead their own learning. Attendees assemble each week and decide what topics will be the focal point for their learning. We provide members of our Instructional Technology staff (including our high school students) to support those looking to expand their skills with technology integration. In addition, teachers from Burlington can earn in-service credits or Professional Development Points for their attendance.
This model could be replicated anywhere! All you need to do is pick some dates, provide a space, and invite local educators. Trust me – if you plan it, they will come.
2. Attend A Multiple-Day Workshop
Most of the teachers whom I know hate taking one day off from their classroom during the school year, and they would never consider missing consecutive days for a workshop of any kind. The amount of additional advanced planning, combined with the time away from their students, is just too much for these folks to bear! Well, there is no time better than the summer months to escape the guilt of missing a day of school and treat yourself to a quality learning opportunity with educators and taught by other educators. Check out the summer-long list of workshops offered by EdTech Teacher’s staff of classroom practitioners.
3. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
The beauty of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is that most of the learning opportunities can be done regardless of time and place. You can choose what you learn, when you learn, and where you learn. If you are anywhere with a wireless signal, and you want to try the MOOC experience, then your only dilemma is choosing from the extensive list of options out there. A great place to begin your search is at www.mooc.ca/, a comprehensive list of MOOC’s maintained by Stephen Downes.
If you are looking for a less intimidating option, you could also enlist a group of colleagues and run through the some of the topics from the educational-technology focused #ETMOOC which ran between January and March of this year. The important part here is to find a space where passionate educators can find a topic of common interest and share their learning journey regardless of space or time.
4. Participate in a Weekly Twitter Chat
If you are an educator, then there is a Twitter chat for you. Check out this awesome Google Spreadsheet of Twitter chats broken down by nights of the week that was created by @thomascmurray and @cevans5095. There are literally chats for every grade level and discipline that you could imagine. My suggestion would be to speak to your district or building administrator about earning credits towards recertification for your participation (in MA we call these credits Professional Development Points). You could use storify to archive your participation in the chats and incorporate your tweets into a reflective blog post to provide documentation of your learning.
If you need help getting started with Twitter, check out Erin Klein’s great video that appeared on Edudemic last week.
5. Just Hang Out
If you haven’t experienced the capabilities in a Google+ Hangout, you are missing out! Check out the schedule of Education On Air sessions that is available to educators for free learning opportunities. Educators could also create their own hangouts for colleagues to discuss a pertinent topic, collaborate on curriculum work, or even do a book discussion. The possibilities are literally endless, and the hangouts allow you to record the sessions to have for future reference. At the very least, I encourage you to try a hangout with one or two friends to see how easy it is to set up and utilize the numerous built-in functions.
Given all of the avenues available for professional development, 2013 could be the best summer ever! What a great time to take advantage of these opportunities to advance your own learning!
Patrick will be leading professional development workshops this summer in his district as well as with EdTechTeacher.