Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Avoid the Summer Learning Slide!

If you’re like me, you can’t believe that June is already here. And despite the craziness of assessments, reporting, awards day ceremonies, field trips, and impending good byes to students, my thoughts are already turning to my favourite season of the year. Summer! Bikinis and beaches, airplanes and backpacks, golf clubs and green grass, patios and cool drinks, and professional learning. That’s right—professional learning. It’s not only students who can experience summer learning loss!

The glorious months of July and August are a rare opportunity for relaxation and adventure, but summer holidays also gives educators a chance to engage in self-directed professional learning. With ten months of busy schedules and mandatory professional learning days, pursuing our own educational interests is an indulgence many of us we feel we can’t afford. This summer I challenge you to choose a topic you are passionate or curious about and pair some professional learning with your favourite summertime activity. Put a few of these summer learning hacks into action and avoid the summer slide!

Summer Fun
Summer Learning Hack
Soak up the sun
Hold a frosty drink in one hand and an educational book or journal in the other. Challenge yourself to read 25 pages before you refill that glass. Some excellent suggestions for reading material can be found here:

Road trip!

The open road might beckon, but after hours and hours of highway, boredom can set in. There are countless audiobooks available for download to your device that can make the miles fly by as you drive cross-country.  Download titles from Audible or ask your local library if you can check out audiobooks for free.  This list of titles has some great suggestions to heat up your summer learning!
Save it for a rainy day

After days of heat and outdoor fun, the flowers and grass aren’t the only things that are starting to wilt. Enjoy a cooler day inside, dust off your device, and check out some of Microsoft’s fantastic professional learning offerings! Sign up here for Summer School—7 weeks of emails and activities to improve your ability to infuse technology in the classroom. And if you’re hungry for more, explore the Microsoft Educator Community for Quick Tip Videos, Courses, and Resources.
Leaving on a jet plane
Make the most of your time standing in lines and waiting to board your plane. As long as you have wifi, you can explore the amazing world of Twitter. There are so many education thought leaders to follow and learn from their wisdom 140 characters at a time, as well as hashtags and Twitter chats to catch up on. #MIEExpert and the suggestions here are a good place to start.

And once you board your plane and lose connectivity? Load up your device in advance with podcasts on topics that interest you. They’re on demand and free. BAM Radio Network features a wide variety of topics and some big names in education that are well worth a listen.

And once you reach your destination? Use social media to connect with a local teacher and visit a school! Depending on the country you’ve travelled to, school might be in session. It’s amazing what you can glean by roaming the halls and classrooms of an unfamiliar school and talking teaching with your international colleagues. Read here about my amazing afternoon at a Greek kindergarten last fall!

Summer is all about relaxing, recharging, and feeding your soul—so a little professional learning goes a long way.  Incorporate some of these summer learning hacks into your favourite activities and return to school refreshed, excited, and bursting with new ideas this fall! I’d love to see how you choose to learn this summer…use the hashtags #MIEExpert and #summerlearninghack to share and inspire other educators. 

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