Summertime Professional Development Opportunities

by Kim Moldofsky, The Maker Mom

School is on a roll! The summer slide is a thing of the past as classes gain momentum. Even as you feel you’re hitting your stride with this year’s students, it’s time to start thinking ahead to summer. Summers go by so quickly; a solid plan helps you make the most of it.

Sometimes recharging means spending a quiet summer on the beach or with friends and family, but it can also mean educational adventures and professional development. If you’ve got weeks or months to spare, why not recharge by replenishing your own cup of knowledge and sparking your curiosity?

You can reconnect with your inner student by seeking to grow in a variety of ways. The first step is figuring out what you’re looking for. Do you want to build subject-area knowledge, other professional skills, or do you simply want to experience thrill and tension of learning new and challenging skills?

Museums are a great place to look for professional development programs. Some offer programs that provide continuing education credits or even graduate credits.

Is the voice of adventure calling you beyond your metro area?

Heed the siren call of the sea

Aye me hearties, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Teacher at Sea program is a worthy one. This multi-week experience aboard a working ship aims to provide teachers real-world research experience working at sea with world-renowned NOAA scientists. Land lubbers need not apply; this program is not for the faint of heart. It is however, great for full-time teaches with a desire for unique hands-on experiences. 

Head to camp

As with the NOAA program above, there is no charge to attend this camp for teachers. Of course, in both cases, admission is competitive. But you can also find low-cost EdCamps all across the US and around the world. EdCamp is an unconference. That is, it’s a gathering at which participants create and lead professional development workshops. Discussion-based sessions are lively and plentiful as educators share their experiences and best practices.

Travel Bug

Maybe a summer at sea isn’t your thing. Perhaps you’re looking for more structure than EdCamp. In that case, consider chaperoning an international student tour. Search online to find options or learn how to organize a tour with your own students. Your sweat equity will cover the cost of your trip.

Okay, as much as you like them, it’s true that sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe you want more of a getaway. In that case, look into organizations that provide grants for teachers to pursue personalized PD, like Fund for Teachers. You must outline your project as well as a plan to apply your new knowledge in your classroom and community.

Keep in mind that if you’re considering the more competitive options, you may want to apply to a few programs in the hopes of having a backup plan. Understandably, the applications will ask about your job, your experience and goals. They may even require letters of recommendation, so be prepared.

Unprofessional Development

If the ideas above don't get your mojo flowing, consider a summer of “unprofessional development.” Take up karate, hang gliding, or fly on a trapeze. Do something novel. Something so out of your comfort zone that it will serve as a powerful reminder of what it's like to learn a skill for the very first time.

Regardless of which of these options choose, you’re sure to have plenty to talk about on the first day of school.