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5 Summer Professional Development Ideas for Teachers

summer professional development
(Image credit: Pixabay)

The last thing some of us want to do in the summer is take a class but the reality is summer is the perfect time to take advantage of great learnings and have enough time to put those learnings into practice in your planning for next school year. Several conferences will continue to be virtual; ISTE, for example, is a virtual conference this year (opens in new tab), but the Digital Learning Annual Conference kicked off as a hybrid conference earlier this month. 

However, if you are more than tired of virtual conferences and can’t find any in-person events to attend, here are five ideas for summer professional learning.

1. Join or start a summer book club 

This is a great way to keep your community connected over the summer with very little effort. Some incredible books are coming out this summer and you can always read those that you didn’t have time for. 

Some favorites include: 

2. Enroll in a free workshop for certification 

Several organizations offer certifications now, including ISTE (opens in new tab), CoSN (opens in new tab), Microsoft (opens in new tab), Google (opens in new tab), Apple (opens in new tab), and many others. These certifications are typically free and you can take the classes at your own pace so you can spend time at the beach and then check when it’s convenient. Once you become certified with an organization, you become part of the community of certificated professionals and typically have access to resources that are only available to that select group. These certifications can help improve your resume and enhance your teaching for next year, too! 

3. Visit parks 

Most national and local parks have professional development programs for teachers that are year round! For example, the Bureau of Land Management has Project Archaeology (opens in new tab), which teaches scientific and historical inquiry, cultural understanding, and archaeological stewardship. Teacher workshops are offered across the country and online. The National Park Services offers the Teacher - Ranger - Teacher program (opens in new tab) to 250 educators for a summer professional learning experience. The Department of Interior hosts a website (opens in new tab) with all of the details related to professional development for educators, and most everything is FREE! 

4. Take an online course 

Several organizations offer free online PD to teachers year round. You can complete the courses in your own timeline, even while sitting poolside catching some sun. 

Here are just a few sites that offer free courses: 

  • PBS TeacherLine (opens in new tab) offers a wide variety of online courses to teachers, and some even offer an opportunity to earn graduate credit. 
  • Coursera (opens in new tab) is widely used in higher education and offers incredible courses developed by universities and made available through this open university format. Courses are completely free, online, and self-paced! 
  • Sanford Inspire (opens in new tab) offers free resources for SEL that include recorded webinars, plus complete courses that enable you to earn a certificate. 
  • Learning for Justice (opens in new tab)offers self-guided learning resources supported by recorded webinars focused on social and emotional learning and other topics, including diversity, leadership, and empathy. 
  • The Library of Congress (opens in new tab) lets you create your own path and personalize PD with documentation that can be submitted to earn CEU with your district if you need that service. Completely online and free! 
  • The STEM Connection (opens in new tab) offers STEM PD designed to help teachers implement STEM in the classroom. Some sessions to highlight are STEM Quick Wins and STEM for Unique Needs Youth. 
  • And don’t forget Tech & Learning (opens in new tab), and the rich resources available through on-demand events. 

5. Last but not least: Reflect and journal! 

You may not be able to earn CEUs for this professional development but summer is a time to think about how you navigate your instruction, leadership, and overall management of time and task in the previous year, and reflect on how you might improve your efficiencies and processes next school year. Journal new tools you're exploring so that you can recall what you want to use in the classroom when you are planning for next year. Now is also the time to record any celebrations or noteworthy moments from last school year that can motivate you next year!  Keeping a mind on continuous improvement is always a winning way to develop your skills! 

So, five tips on PD you can do in your PJs or swimsuit all summer long. Have a wonderful summer! You’ve earned it!!!

Dr. Ray's career includes designing technology within the Frist Center for the Visual Arts and directing technology research through Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Science Outreach programs. As a district administrator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, she led the award-winning design, implementation, and evaluation of instructional technology programs, including instructional design for online and blended learning environments, redesigning physical learning environments, redefining school libraries, and establishing the first virtual high school to award the diploma. She leads K20Connect (opens in new tab) and other passion projects supporting K20 education around the world.