Whether you are reading this during your summer break or during the midst of the school year, just the fact you are reading it means you are looking for self-directed professional learning. And I applaud you!
Just like students, teachers, too, can suffer from a "summer slide" or plateau in development unless we connect with other educators, attend professional learning, or read books that invigorate our craft.
Summer offers the perfect time to reflect on our teaching practices, refine, and reclaim our roles as leaders of learning. But ongoing learning can happen throughout the year!
Here are a few ways to stay fresh!
Connect with other educators:
Connecting with colleagues can be inspirational. Learning from others who have varied experiences and perspectives gives us new ideas. Their views are refreshing and help to widen our knowledge. I try to build a broader base of educators with whom I can connect and learn from. Twitter has made this much easier. Through Twitter, building a Professional Learning Network (PLN) of teachers, educators, and authors is easy and quick. Follow educators that interest you from around the world and you will be able to broaden your scope. Sometimes our narrow vision of what is simply around us limits our ability to learn new methods, strategies, and research. Twitter is super easy too. You can hop on the app at any moment anywhere you are and it's free!
Attend professional development:
Lead learners actively seek out professional development. Sometimes face to face professional development is what we need. Connecting in person and collaborating with like minded colleagues can affirm our beliefs and help us to think of new ways to improve our craft. There's something to be said about looking into another person's eyes and holding a conversation.
Face to face professional development opportunities sometimes get a bad wrap for being one stop trainings. One way to change that perspective or trajectory is to create an action plan for post PD. What will you do as a result of the face to face PD that will enhance your teaching and student growth? If you attended the training with a team of teachers from you campus, perhaps you can hold follow up collaboratives to discuss implementation. If you didn't attend with campus colleagues, you may want to connect with a few educators who attended the training and follow up on line via Twitter or Google Hangouts.
Professional development has gone virtual nowadays! There are many online opportunities to grow. These are great for many reasons. They are often free, short, no need for transportation, no need for childcare, can be done at home, etc! In June 2018, many ESL leaders participated in an online learning opportunity called VirtuEL. You can check out my session here and the line up of other sessions too. MadPD is another online, virtual learning opportunity for educators.
The summertime is the best time to grab a stack of books that will push your teaching to the next level. Get some recommendations from colleagues and either check them out from the school/public library or purchase them. I enjoy collaborating on books I read, so I often join professional reading book clubs like #ELLChat_bkclub on Twitter. Whether you like to read with a group and socialize or read independently, just do it! Set some reading goals and go for them.
Share your learning:
Take the next step and share what you have learned at professional learning experiences, books you've read and your own experiences and present to your peers! Presenting helps you refine your craft and spreads knowledge. Win win! You can start by presenting to your team or on your campus and then move on to presenting at the district level. One way to do this is by simply asking your campus administrator for an opportunity to share what you've learning. Explain the benefits and gains. Reach out to district leaders and look for opportunities to submit proposals to share at the state level. Stepping out the your comfort zone can offer great opportunities for growth!
Other than these idea, how do you stay fresh?