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Professional Development For Teachers
What did you do during your summer vacation? This commonly asked question is more applicable to us educators than our students. Those that think that educators have the “easy life” with “summers off” obviously do not have a clue about the rigors of the teaching profession. Though we may not be teaching in the classroom for several weeks, summers, teachers and professional development go hand in hand. Whether the professional development for teachers is planned by our schoolboards or voluntary, most educators spend some of their break from the classroom in the classroom learning.
We work hard all year: preparing and implementing lessons; grading papers; communicating with students, administrators and parents; constructing and filing reports etc. Once all the paperwork is finished and the classroom is packed up for the summer, we educators certainly deserve a break, but the expectation from most administrators is to use at least some of that time for professional development. Our task is therefore to discover where we can go and what we can do to develop ourselves that is both interesting and invigorating for us as professionals.
In searching the internet, I discovered that there are seminars and workshops offered all over the country as well as in such exotic places as Paris that could meet these criteria. Whether you are a history buff or would like to find techniques for working with your English as second language students, universities, private corporations and even the U.S. government have created programs for professional development for teachers. Some of them even offer a stipend for travel and accommodations or degree credits for an additional fee.
At a site called EdTech Teacher one can choose from a wide variety of courses to enhance your use of technology in the classroom. Located on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, they offer one, two and three day seminars on everything from using technology to teach math, reading science and foreign language to a course in school leadership. The National Archives offers workshops on using historical records to create classroom materials and teaching units in areas such as history, social studies and the humanities. They are presented in several locations around the country and are free with university credits offered for a fee. The workshop offered at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Albilene, KS on July 18-22 offers a special STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.
The TOMATIS Method is offering professional development for teachers of foreign language. (The TOMATIS system is a unique way of helping students to acquire better listening skills and the ability to analyze sounds in a non-mother tongue language in order to improve academic performance.) This particular workshop is designed to help educators “discover how the ear and the brain process linguistic coding by an adjustment to the sound structures of the mother tongue”, and is being offered in Paris, France at the end of the month of June.
O.K. so your budget or the children home for the summer will not allow you to travel out of the area to seminars of professional development for teachers, but you would still like to explore a new area or concept or just in general gain new ideas for the coming school year. What are your options? The Public Library in your area usually offers many activities that are sometimes even appropriate for you and your children to do together. Mine in Ann Arbor, MI has concerts and lectures along with the regular story hours and summer reading programs. Most often these activities are free or require a small entrance fee. Local Historical Sites also have many interesting and low cost programs that can give you ideas on how to promote local culture and community among your students. Finally, don’t forget the Community Colleges in your area which often offer low cost courses geared to acquiring new skills that are perfect for teachers and professional development requirements.
Whatever you choose to do for your summer vacation, there are many options for educators who wish to combine leisurely activities with professional development. We have earned the right to relax, but we owe it to ourselves and our students not to stagnate. Summer professional development for teachers seminars and activities are a wonderful way to rejuvenate and prepare for another great teaching year!