Ahhhh...summer. We are always so excited to see it come, and we are sad to see it go. As teachers we joke around saying things like “sure we get the summers off.” The “teacher in the summer” memes make us smile and cry all at the same time. Regardless if you feel you have a summer “break” or wonder how in the world you ever have time to teach in the first place, there are certain things all teachers should try to do over the summer.
Refresh & Reflect
I love that I get to facilitate for Magnify Learning in the summer. It means every summer I go through the steps of planning a project from a beginner’s level. I love getting to be refreshed on the basics of project-based learning so often. It doesn’t seem to matter than I’ve been doing PBL for 10 years and facilitating for 8 years, I still love getting this refresher! I get to share experiences and my best practices while giving feedback and learning from other teachers across the country. New project ideas are an added bonus to a summer PBL workshop!
I know not everyone is ready or able to be a facilitator, but throughout the summer we should spend time reflecting on our best practices and refreshing on the basics of our teaching methods. Maybe you could search project libraries for new project ideas. Maybe you spend time on Pinterest getting new scaffolding or workshop ideas, or maybe you sit down with your team of teachers at a local coffee shop and reflect how your previous year succeeded or failed to live up to last summer’s expectations. One opportunity that is very beneficial is signing up for a PBL Advanced training at an Open Project-Based Learning Workshop. You get to capture the basics of project planning, but you get to do it with a more in depth focus now that you have some experience under your belt. Whatever you decide to do, take some time to reflect and freshen up on your PBL skills.
Read & Receive
Hi. My name is Trisha Burns and I am a professional development junkie. I remember when I first heard about Project Based Learning. I was so excited that I was going to be able to go to a week long professional development workshop. Little did I know it would change my teaching career so significantly. By taking a week out of my summer, I was able to, with my fellow 8th grade math teacher, plan a whole new curriculum! We had more project ideas than we had time for in the school year. Although 10 years later I don’t still use the same projects we created, I do still use the protocols and planning methods I learned that week.
Summer is a perfect time to learn something new. If you are new to PBL, you should sign up for a PBL Jumpstart at an Open PBL Workshop near you, or do some reading through the Magnify Learning PBL Blog to become more familiar with the PBL process and culture of your classroom. Regardless if this school year is your first year of using PBL or your 10th year, there is always something new to learn. Sometimes you don’t even know what you don’t know, and if that is the case, I suggest Twitter for you. Follow Magnify Learning @magnifylearning on Twitter or get yourself involved in #PBLchat and begin to learn best practices from other schools or teachers. I know several organizations have come together to put a framework around project-based learning at High Quality Project-Based Learning (HQPBL). It would be a great place to read about the research supporting PBL and what experts would say is the framework around PBL. However you decide to learn this summer, take some time to read and receive new information that will make you a better teacher for the upcoming year.
Rejuvenate & Relax
And the fun part. Don’t forget to take time for you this summer. Take time to relax; take time to rejuvenate. The best thing you can give your family, your team members, and your students is a happy and healthy you. As much as I like to learn new things and to reflect on the last year, I also like to be able to pursue passions or adventures that I don’t get to experience during the school year. If you look at the calendar you may panic. The summer is so short, and it will go so fast. How can you make a plan? Which of the 6 R’s of summer, do you need to make a bigger priority this summer? If you normally spend your whole summer becoming familiar with your curriculum, or planning your projects, or learning something new, don’t forget to take some time for yourself to relax. However, if you normally spend your whole summer relaxing, don’t forget to think ahead. A little preparation can truly help you get the year off to a good start and maybe you can stay relaxed a little bit longer into the school year.
*Blog originally posted on May 11, 2018.
Trisha Burns is an 8th grade math facilitator at CSA Central Campus in Columbus, Indiana. She is a certified teacher and trainer through the New Tech Network and certified through Magnify Learning to teach project-based learning in Indiana. She has taught in the classroom since 2009 and facilitates for Magnify Learning in the summer. When she is not developing and implementing projects in her class room she loves to hang out with her family and scrapbook their memories!