Dear Sarah,

After a rewarding but exhausting school year, I’m definitely looking forward to summer! I’m one of those teachers who loves the summer pace, but also wants to keep learning. My school district is organizing some days of professional development that I’ll be attending, but I know there are lots of ways to approach professional development that don’t require seat time. I’m curious, what other kinds of summer learning would you suggest?


Summer Learning

Dear Summer Learning,

Leave it to the first weeks of summer to remind me just how frenetic the pace of the school year is. I can actually catch up on what’s going on in the world and I can start to sift through that pile of  “as soon as school is done” I’ve been accumulating for the last 10 months. My favorite part about your question is the subtext: teachers never stop learning. We may not have kids coming to our classrooms every morning, but teachers never really stop thinking about the students we’ve had and the ones who are yet to come.

Yet, I think summer is not only about going to organized professional development or conferences, but it also gives us permission to become better teachers by finding inspiration in unexpected places. Here are some places you might start.

If you want to LISTEN. Here are some podcasts that may not only help you think about learning, but they may even get you thinking about how your students may do their own next year.

Magic Lessons. I love this concept, hosted by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love). In an episode she highlights a creative problem a listener is having (e.g. you don’t have time to create or you’re fighting writer’s block) and then she invites other artists on to offer advice from their own experiences.

Mystery Show. I love this concept, not only in the podcast, but also as a way of crafting lessons for the classroom. Essentially, each episode is set up as an observation turned mystery. I keep realizing how intrigued I am as I listen and find myself thinking about how to creating “learning mysteries” in my own classroom.

Talk with Teachers. The amazing Brian Sztabnik has interviewed over 100 accomplished teachers on this podcast series. You’re sure to connect with many of them.

If you want to WATCH.

Drive by Dan Pink via RSA. In this “illustrated” version of Dan Pink’s TEDTalk, you will probably find yourself not only nodding your head in agreement, but also thinking about what really motivates your learners.

Teaching Channel. Whether it’s a class that looks like yours or not (and in the spirit of summer curiosity, I would start with grades and subjects other than your own) this library of classroom videos will get help you think in new ways about your classroom. Last summer I created a “Summer Road Trip” you might be interested in or you can check out their, just launched, Choose Your Own Adventure.

If you want to BROWSE or EXPLORE.

BrainPickings. I can’t get enough of this site! Maria Popova curates better than anyone and tracing her connections through books can send you link-clicking away for hours.

Mindshift. Definitely one of my go-to places for all things learning and thinking. Of course, they intersect with education, but their work also transcends it. If you don’t know where to start, the Big Ideas section always gets me thinking.

HITRecord. And if you’re curiously looking for a model of true online collaboration, go adventuring on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s brain child: a creative space that partners artists and shares their creations. A note: like many pieces of brilliant art, some of the work here is perfect for adults, but not every classroom.

Perhaps summer’s greatest lesson about learning is that school shouldn’t feel so different than this. May your learning this summer be about discovering and browsing, watching and listening, remembering the feel of curiosity in your toes.

Teach openly,

With Teacher2Teacher




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