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Know Before You Go – Top 5 AVID Summer Institute Pointers

By Jonathan Petrick & Melodee Morgan

I met Melodee as a participant at last year’s AVID Summer Institute (SI), and immediately, we began sharing ideas. We talked about our first SI experience of feeling overwhelmed, but energized, and began brainstorming our list of ‘musts’ that would remind us and support others who will be attending AVID Summer Institute 2016.

AVID SI is like the Olympics of professional development for educators—it’s quite an experience. It’s also a time to reflect and plan as we work with colleagues to guide our students toward college and career readiness.

If you are one of the almost 40,000 educators attending one of the 12 AVID Summer Institutes around the country, you’ll want to take note of the advice that follows. As they say in the AVID world, “There’s always something to learn,” so veterans and newbies…listen up! Melodee has some great advice for you.

1. Be open to new ideas.
Most educators consider themselves “lifelong learners,” but even still, attending SI might shake up your world a little bit! You may find yourself thinking, “My kids won’t like these silly claps or funny AVID callbacks!” Be open to trying what you learn at SI. Trust me, your kids and staff will LOVE what you bring back to your site, and it will keep the momentum going throughout those tough times during the school year. Who doesn’t like a good ‘AVID Power Whoosh’ after completing schoolwide testing? Be open and share the wealth of all the little things that you’ll pick up at SI.

2. Network to celebrate and problem solve.
I am amazed at the enormous number of passionate, quality educators who I meet every year at SI. Jot down email addresses, phone numbers, Twitter and Instagram handles…anything to keep the connection with these amazing folks. These contacts will prove valuable for ideas in the classroom, new strategies, upcoming workshops, and potential roadblocks throughout the year. I’d recommend having some business cards ready to distribute to educators who you’ll meet throughout the three-day event.

3. Seize the moment to be separated from colleagues during SI strand time.
YES! Your first instinct will be, “Well, we are going as a team, and therefore, we need to stick together and collaborate.” Attending different strands will allow you to learn and absorb as much as you can individually, even if you and a colleague are signed up to take the same exact strand. You will have time during SI to meet with your site and collaborate—that time is built into the three days. Embracing the different perspectives of facilitators will just add to your magic AVID toolkit!

4. Mark the text, take photos, and make room.
Don’t be afraid to write in your strand handouts. My first year, I was so worried about keeping the handouts in pristine condition, I somewhat forgot important things that I wish I’d written down. Have a smart device and take pictures of the work you do and your site team discussion. Those photos will help to trigger the Socratic dialogue back at your site and document the good PR that AVID has to offer. For those of you flying into an SI, please remember to leave a little room in your luggage. The good rule of thumb is keep 8–10 lbs. free for the strand materials and other goodies that you’ll bring back in your suitcase.

5. Don’t miss a thing, including your host city!
SI will occur during your coveted summer break, and you may be tempted to skip a General Session or Site Team Meeting. BE PRESENT for every single thing offered. The educators you meet and the AVID student and educator speakers at General Session will prove to be the best ever, so don’t shortchange this experience and miss anything. Remember, AVID Center picks great cities to host these events, so at the end of the day, get outside and have fun. Take in some sights, enjoy a great restaurant, or just revel in being out with your team to build relational capacity.

 Jonathan’s Bonus Tips

  1. Complete your Launches before SI.
  2. Hit the AVID merchandise sales booth early to find clothes and AVID gear to take back to your site. Lots of the items make great Fun Friday gifts for your students.
  3. Want college credit? You can earn Continuing Education Credits as an SI participant! Click here to learn how.
  4. Download a QR reader on your smartphone prior to SI, so you can forget the pencil and paper evaluations.
  5. When planning with your colleagues, be sure to note ideas that might help publicize AVID in your school and community.

Bring your growth mindset to AVID Summer Institute. Prepare to make the ‘Partnership for Success’ with other educators and know that you are going to attend one of the best professional development events this summer. See you there—#AVIDSI16!


Melodee Morgan is an AVID Elective and English teacher at Ethan A. Chase Middle School in Menifee, California. She teaches 6th, 7th, and 8th grade AVID to an amazing bunch of students and is passionate about AVID’s mission. A Southern California native, Melodee attended Azusa Pacific University, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Melodee has been teaching for nine years and has been involved with AVID for the last three years. She is the official AVID cheerleader and baker of sweet treats at her middle school. Say hi to Melodee at San Diego 2, where she’ll participate in the ‘Writing Across MS/HS Content Areas’ strand.


Jonathan Petrick is a Program Manager for AVID Center’s California Division. Previously, he coordinated and taught the AVID Elective class for the Dept. of Defense Dependent Schools-Germany (DoDDS). He was the educator speaker at the 2014 Summer Institute in Sacramento, CA. You can watch his speech here. In addition to working for AVID, he enjoys spending his weekends attending GoRuck Events, connecting educators via his @AVIDPetrick Twitter handle, and searching for the best chips and salsa that California has to offer. Stop by and say hi to Jonathan at one of California’s AVID Summer Institutes this summer!


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