Educators, Take Advantage of Your Summer!

Take Advantage of summerTime to Relax?

Anyone who works in the field of education knows how all-encompassing the job can be during the school year. We finally reach the summer months and really need some time for self-care, family, and personal projects. But once we have spent a few weeks on those things, we can really take advantage of the freedom of summer to invest in the upcoming school year. The more time you put into planning during the summer, the smoother your year can be. Instead of worrying about prep all the time, you can focus on the individual students and all of the other tasks, such as grading and meetings, which can’t be done in advance.

One great idea is to look through all of the materials you have used in the past year, and think about whether you would want to use them again. You might decide that something is worth keeping but could use a little tweaking or updating. By making the necessary changes in the summer, you will be sure that it is ready to be handed out whenever you need it. If it is a game or an activity that requires prep such as cutting or dividing up supplies, you can do all of that in advance to save time during the year. You might even go as far as making photocopies of sets of handouts so they are literally ready at a moment’s notice.

In addition to deciding what you want to keep and tweak, and what you would prefer not to use again, the summer is a great time to test out new ideas. The constant innovation in STEM education and all of the STEM and maker-space furniture and accessories that go along with it forces teachers to stay on their toes if they want to keep their subjects relevant. But you can’t just walk into a classroom on the first day of school and start using new furniture and materials. Any experienced teacher knows that you need to try out anything new yourself before you can guide students who are trying it. The summer is a great time to test out new furniture and materials and experiment with them. You may come up with some great new ideas, or learn to anticipate certain challenges before they arise.

No matter what your subject area is, the summer is also an ideal opportunity for revising and planning projects. Just writing up the instructions for a project can take a lot of time, as can planning out all of the smaller steps and scaffolding that will take place before reaching the final product. Sometimes in the midst of a project, it can be quite challenging to make adjustments, and keep up with the worksheets and instructions that are needed to reach a successful result. As Andrew Miller suggests in the article I linked to above, the summer is the perfect time to go through projects you have used in the past and tweak them. Because projects require a lot of foresight and planning in terms of time management and breaking down the different components, taking care of all of these things way before you need them can be a huge advantage.

Aside from thinking about the content of your lessons and projects, you should also focus on planning the physical space of your classroom. Did you like the layout last year? Is there anything you would like to change about it? Check all of your furniture and make sure that the classroom chairs, school desks, bookshelves and computers are in working order. If there are things that are missing or broken, you want to make sure to have them fixed or ordered well in advance of needing them on the first day of school. In addition to the furniture you already have in the classroom, you can look into what’s new and exciting for the upcoming year. Even if you have a limited budget (or none at all) for new furniture, you can apply for grants and contests that might allow you to take advantage of innovative products.

Obviously, educators need a break, and I am not suggesting that we should be spending all summer thinking about school. However, I do think that by setting aside some time to consider certain aspects of the coming year, we can go into the school year excited, energized, and better prepared than ever before.

 

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