Ah, summer -- those lovely eight weeks or so of freedom from a bell schedule, from assessing student work, from an alarm that goes off way too early some days. I sleep late, throw my hair into a messy bun, wear flip flops, and soak in the lack of structure. Sounds like a teacher taking the summer off, right?
Except I don't. Here's why:
1) Summer = Premium Professional Learning Time
I'm not saying I don't learn during the school year. I do. Only during the summer, I don't have other classroom duties. I can select a handful of great PD books to work through. I can read articles from my Twitter PLN every day. Think about it -- if I'm reading one article a day, six days a week, for eight weeks, that's forty-eight new ideas or perspectives to take back to the classroom in the fall (okay, in August . . . you know, when it will still be a hundred degrees here). I read all sorts of professional literature during the school year, but somehow, my summer professional learning sticks a little better. Might have something to do with not looking at over a hundred pieces of student work every day.
2) Summer = Optimum Planning for Improvement
I realize my plans will change during the school year as I meet my students, start assessing their needs, and make alterations accordingly. At the same time, I also realize that without a plan, I'm not as focused as I can be in the classroom. It's like the house my husband and I are building. We have made changes along the way, but we are adhering to the original plan, which maintains structural integrity.
My plans work the same way. I have a year-long plan and unit plans, and in May, I have a year's worth of reflection on what worked and what didn't. So I spend an hour or so every day during the summer tweaking lesson plans and creating new materials. It's all about maintaining the structural integrity of my instruction.
3) Summer = Modeling the Way
I want my students to keep learning each summer, yes? Well, if I ask them to read or listen or write, I need to be doing the same thing. I didn't assign summer homework this year, but I did ask kids to read. I'm a big believer in doing what I ask my students to do. So if they're reading, I'm reading. If they're listening, I'm listening. And if they're writing, I'm writing.
What about you? Taking the summer off or still working at teaching? What are your reasons?