Professional Learning

Meaningful Summer PD at Home

Traveling for professional development is out this summer, but there are still ways to gain knowledge and skills.

July 8, 2020
FG Trade / iStock

In the midst of a pandemic, and coming off the end of a school year unlike any other, it’s hard to get into the mode of preparing for next year. But that is what teachers do: We prepare. So in a summer of preparation for the unknown, facing challenges that have only begun to reveal themselves, how can we prepare?

With so much about the coming year unknown, teachers need to equip themselves with as many tools as possible. Whether you’re teaching online, in person, or a mix of the two, now is the time to prepare. The suggestions below are just a few easy and cost-effective ways for teachers to regroup and equip themselves for the journey ahead.

Get Google Certified

We’ve all received those emails—the ones from colleagues with the Google Certified Educator badge on them. Many schools nowadays are embracing the power of Google and use the company as their main source of communication and data hosting. The list of apps and resources provided can be overwhelming. The Google Certified educator program is designed to teach educators how to harness the power of Google in the classroom. And, as impressive as the badges may look, they’re relatively easy to obtain.

Google offers a free course for educators to learn how to use their wide array of tools. The Level 1 course is composed of 13 lessons that cover Google Suites apps such as Google Classroom and Calendar, and even includes lessons on teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. The lessons are self-paced and suited for any summer schedule.

Dive Into a Podcast

Podcasts are the perfect tool for breaking the cycle of endless articles, emails, and Zoom meetings. Podcasts adhere to your time frame and preferences and are perfect for busy schedules—you can listen to them while taking a walk, driving, or whatever else you need to do.

Apple Podcasts is the home of hundreds of education-themed shows, which vary by length, host, and tone. A great starter podcast for those with limited time is the weekly #EdChat Radio show, a quick 12-minute podcast that covers many of education’s biggest topics.

For those with more time, The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast, hosted by Jennifer Gonzalez, dives deep into major topics including giving meaningful feedback, project-based learning, and ways to be inclusive of diverse students.

Gamify Your Curriculum

As one year ends and another looms, most teachers seek out ways to enhance curriculum and find new ways to engage students. Gamification is the process of motivating students to learn by framing activities and curricula as games. How great would it be to start the year off with some friendly competitive learning through a digital escape room or the mad dash of a scavenger hunt?

A great source on this topic is John Meehan’s book EDrenaline Rush. Loaded with ideas for class engagement based on theme parks, mud runs, and more, the book is a great introduction to the world of classroom gamification. Meehan’s website also provides adaptable free resources for gamification in the usual classroom setting as well as in distance learning. From Fortnite review battles to Netflix binge learning, it’s a treasure trove well worth checking out.

Create Your Own Conference

Since leaving the house for a conference or even district-led PD sessions is off the table, you may have to get creative with finding engaging speakers to learn from this summer. It turns out that our students may have been on to something with their fascination with YouTube—the video behemoth is actually a great resource for some of the best professional development videos around. While many conferences have been canceled, many organizations, including ASCD and AMLE,  have extensive libraries of content for teachers. In addition to these channels, YouTube Learning has plenty of resources for any areas you might want to explore. Many organizations, including ASCD, are even hosting online conferences that you can attend from home.

There are plenty of websites aside from YouTube that provide resources and inspiration for teachers at all levels. TED-Ed is a great resource for digital lesson plans and provides access to some of the best educational TED talks. And finally, PBS LearningMedia is the home of a great professional development content library that spans all grade levels and content areas.

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