How To Get The Most Out Of Professional Development This Summer

TeacherVision Advisory Board Member and veteran teacher, Jessica, shares her tips for how to find professional development opportunities, and how to get the most out of them.

Updated: July 25, 2019

teachers in professional development class

As teachers, we're always looking for new ways to grow and learn. Summer is the perfect time to take a break from teaching and to find opportunities for professional development. Maybe you're wanting to find new ideas for next school year or are wondering what professional development you should take.

Maybe you're trying to find motivation to take professional development. After a busy school year, you're exhausted and just want to relax. So, do that first and give yourself a much needed break. As you schedule your professional development this summer, don’t forget to leave in time to recharge your batteries before the new school year comes.

If you’re wondering how to get the most out of professional development over the summer, this blog post will share some ideas that should help.

 

Attend PD Workshops

No matter where you live, there are excellent workshops provided somewhere nearby. Look for opportunities for teacher professional development in your own school, district, city, state, or even nearby states. There are so many excellent workshops available that teach about many different education topics. To get started, turn to Google or ask other teachers you know from your own school or neighboring schools about available opportunities. You might be a part of education Facebook groups, memberships, societies, or newsletters that keep you updated about upcoming opportunities. Great places to look for teacher workshops are colleges or universities, school districts that offer trainings or bring in guest experts at different schools, and local and national education association workshops. There really are so many great professional development opportunities and classes available out there. Just do a little research or ask around, and you'll find them. You can even get started with something like PBS.org's teacher PD site.

Go with a buddy

Doing professional development by yourself is totally fine, but there are so many benefits when you use the buddy system (just like you tell your students to do.) When you go with someone on your teaching team or a friend you can bounce ideas off of, you’ll not only learn but will be able to discuss and debrief what you learned. Another benefit of going with a buddy is that you’ll get to be with a friend. It’s summer time (duh) and although you’ve seen your coworkers all school year long, you will actually miss them over the summer months. During a workshop or training, you can go to lunch together, discuss other professional development opportunities, or collaborate about what you’re planning to do in the upcoming school year.

Make a list of what PD you need

There are truly so many fantastic professional development opportunities available. It would honestly be impossible to attend them all. So, what can you do? You can make a list of what PD you need right now to help you where you’re at. If you’re struggling with assessment and evaluation, find PD opportunities about that. If you’re needing help with classroom management, there are trainings just about this. The thing is, what you need this summer isn’t the same as what you’ll need next summer, so you’ll truly never run out of opportunities to learn something new. But, the good news is, if you don’t get to attend some you want this summer, there’s always next summer, and the one after that, and the one after that and so on.

Don’t let overwhelm seep in

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re learning new things. Sometimes, you’ll notice what you’re learning during your summer professional development will expand your mind, especially if it’s something new. When this happens, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take what you’re learning and write down ways you’ll implement it into your classroom and with your students. If it’s something that’s unfamiliar or new, there will be pushback because it’s uncomfortable. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is applying anything new to your teaching. Just like you teach your students to have a growth mindset, you need to as well. Take your time and let change happen naturally and slowly.

Take PD online

We’ve talked about attending in person workshops, but another fantastic option is to take professional development online. What better way to get the training you need than by doing it in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home right? There are some great online options available to cater to exactly what you’re needing to learn. Just like I mentioned earlier, base the choices you make on what you’re needing right now and go from there. 

Here are five bonus tips from a previous blog post on summer PD opportunities:

Look for university courses

If you live close to a university or college, you may be able to sign up for a summer session course. Summer sessions are usually shorter, which will leave you with some unscheduled weeks. Having lived near Seattle for most of my teaching years, I was able to take advantage of courses designed specifically for educators as well as undergrad classes, which allowed me to add a history endorsement partway through my career. My experience is that summer courses are a little more relaxed and leisurely. The campus is quieter, and the professors tend to be more accessible.

Webinars

If you can't make it to the class, bring the course to you. Webinars can be a great way to gain new skills or learning, and all you need is an internet connection. With a quick online search, you will find several free webinars offered for teachers. Webinars are typically offered on a specific date at a particular time. Be sure to read carefully to determine the time zone of the webinar, so you don't miss out. 

Book Studies

Many school districts offer book studies throughout the school year but not during the summer. Why not arrange your own book study over the summer? You know there is at least one book on your shelf that you’re dying to dig into, but the experience will be more valuable if you share it with fellow educators. You can arrange an online forum to discuss the book or meet in person with colleagues. And be sure to check with your school or district’s administration to see if you can earn credit or clock hours.

Edcamps

Is money an issue? Do you want to participate as well as plan your professional development? Check out www.edcamp.org. Edcamps are facilitated for teachers by teachers, and there is never a charge to attend. The purpose is for teachers to empower each other by sharing in conversation. At Edcamps, teachers suggest topics and join in the discussions that best suit their needs. Edcamps are offered at various locations throughout the US.

Travel Opportunities

There are several travel-study opportunities for teachers. It may be too late to register for a program this summer, but why not do some research to make plans for next year? Many opportunities can be paid through a grant, fellowship, or school district funding. I spent four weeks refreshing my Spanish at the University of Salamanca in the summer of 2016, and my school district reimbursed my tuition. Traveling abroad not only gives you that hands-on cultural experience to share with your students but will also renew and rejuvenate you for the following school year.

What professional development do you plan to do this summer? Share with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

Jessica Peresta is passionate about providing other music teachers, especially those right out of college or new to teaching elementary music, with the music education resources, lesson plans, teacher training, and community you've been looking for. She believes your domestic life outside of school should be spent soaking up time with family and friends and your music teacher life while at school should not leave you feeling defeated, but should be a joyful, exciting, and rewarding experience. To find out more about Jessica and her passion, head to www.thedomesticmusician.com.

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