By Craig McKinney, AVID Teacher and Staff Developer
As school draws to a close, here are my suggestions (using AVID’s WICOR acronym) for some relaxing summer professional development for those times when you want to think a little about work, but don’t want to hunker down in full-throttle school-preparatory efforts.
Keep a journal of your summer travels or a record of your daily thoughts in your off time. In addition to allegedly being therapeutic, journaling allows you to flex your writing muscles, something we ask our students to do, but perhaps don’t practice often enough ourselves. If you get stuck regarding what to write, think of something. Then, you’ll have empathy for what many of your students experience.
Make a list of interesting get-to-know-you questions that go beyond the usual “where were you born?”/“do you have any hobbies?” variety. Use Costa’s Levels of Thinking to craft some intriguing higher-level questions. Cut the questions up into slips or write them on cards and put them in a jar that students can draw from throughout the fall semester for ice-breaking impromptu speeches. It’ll be a fun way to get to know your students when school starts back up. Test them out on your friends or family one afternoon while you’re lounging around the pool or take them on a road trip.
Find a professional community online of other teachers who teach the same subjects as you or have similar interests and concerns. Join a Facebook group, follow some Twitter feeds, or read some blogs. Having others with whom to share ideas, solve problems, or brainstorm will enhance your effectiveness as a teacher and may even help you through some rough spots. You can find AVID’s online community on almost any of your favorite social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and this blog. There are also the AVID Discussion Forums for those of you with a MyAVID account.
Evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of your classroom routines. How do you manage materials? …Collect assignments? …Deal with discipline, requests for restroom breaks, absences, make-ups, and late work? Do you communicate with students and parents in effective ways? Sometimes, our best ideas come when we identify an area for improvement, and then give ourselves time to ruminate on a solution. Identifying the problem areas early in the summer and jotting those down somewhere will start your brain thinking about how you’ll do it better in the fall.
Take home one professional development book from school and actually read it. And then, read a bunch of stuff for fun. Write down the names of things that you enjoyed and share them with your students or colleagues next year. (I recommend When Kids Can’t Read by Kylene Beers; Classroom Instruction That Works by Robert Marzano, Debra Pickering, and Jane Pollock; Mindset by Carol Dweck; and What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker. For non-professional reading, I suggest Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Stephen King’s 11/22/63, John Green’s Paper Towns, Herman Koch’s The Dinner, and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep.)
Of course, this homework is completely optional and will not be graded in the fall. It might, though, help you be more prepared for what you’ll be facing when you return to school in August. I hope you have a restful and relaxing summer and come back refreshed and ready for a great school year.
Thanks for all that you’ve done to help your AVID students and all of your students.
Craig McKinney teaches Humanities at Shepton High School in Plano, Texas. A Dallas-area native, Craig attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he received degrees in English and Sociology. He earned his master’s degree at the University of North Texas. During his 22-year teaching career at Shepton, Craig has taught English, Humanities, Latin, and the AVID Elective. As part of his contribution to Shepton’s AVID site team, Craig spreads AVID strategies schoolwide through staff in-services and by writing a weekly Wednesday WICOR email. When he’s not teaching ninth and tenth graders, Craig works as an AVID staff developer. He also bakes a mean loaf of sourdough bread, serves as an officer of his university’s local alumni association, and loves herb gardening, attending cultural events, and playing board games.
For more on AVID, visit http://avid.org/what-is-avid.ashx.
Want to read more blogs from Craig? Check these out!
How We Do This All Day Long
10 Painless Ways to Manage the Kinetic Energy in Your Classroom
10 Ways to Infuse Your Final Exam Reviews With WICOR
Do Your Students Know How To Ask Questions?
A Brain-Based Paradigm Shift
In the Classroom: Setting House Rules
Giving Thanks: A Reminder