More and more teachers are continuing to work during the summer. But they’re not doing remedial work with students (or for themselves); they’re using their vacations to gain valuable professional development experiences and academic credits. Summertime learning doesn’t just bolster a teacher’s chances for tenure or promotion. Study after study offers evidence that teachers who continue to educate themselves have more successful students. Nowadays, many private and public institutions offer summer enrichment for teachers.
Summer programs for teachers include classroom-based seminars, work experience with scientists or other professionals, or online coursework. Teachers can focus on pedagogical instruction—how to structure curriculum, for example—or else immerse themselves in a specific topic or project to better equip them to pass their knowledge on to students come the fall. No matter what summer experience you choose, you’ll be showing your students the value of lifetime learning. Here is an overview of the summer opportunities available to you.
Summer Seminars for Teachers
These are probably the most widely available summer enrichment opportunities for teachers. Local universities and national institutions such as the National Endowment for the Humanities offer 3-6 week intense training on specific subject matter, sometimes even for course credit. The NEH, for example, is sponsoring seminars in the USA and abroad on topics including cartography, St. Francis of Assisi, the American Frontier, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Teachers of Advanced Placement courses can also take seminars in their subject matter, whether it’s Latin Literature or American History. These intense courses often come with an intense application process and a hefty price tag, for which your school district may not reimburse you. Still, these high-profile seminars could be well worth the investment for teachers of middle- and high-schoolers.
Seminars exist for teachers of younger children, too. A quick scan of Google reveals that in 2009, there are courses on teaching basic physics through age-appropriate experiments, seminars about teaching emergent writers, and more. Check with your local universities, community colleges, and museums to find out what’s available in your area.
Usually offered in the sciences, work experience placements let teachers shadow or work alongside professionals in various fields. Lasting 3-7 weeks, these placements give teachers the opportunity to understand how abstract concepts taught in the classroom are applied in real life. Teachers also learn which skills are most in demand in the marketplace, which technologies are preferred by employers, and the training required for the professional careers they’re observing. This lets teachers return to their students ready to explain exactly what courses they’ll need to excel in the workplace of the future. It also gives teachers a deeper understanding of the concepts they must teach in the classroom, and possibly a fresh perspective from which to plan lessons. Placements include fieldwork with marine biologists, veterinarians, archaeologists, and more. One major directory providing information about this type of placement for teachers is the Society for Science and the Public.
Online Learning for Teachers
The newest way to continue your education or accrue professional development credits is via distance learning. Online education for teachers is a very flexible and effective way to expand your professional skill set and knowledge base, and many accredited universities offer online degrees. Courses are often ready to start when you are, and most online universities offer financial aid for those who qualify. Depending on your state’s licensing laws, you can gain certificates in special education, library science, and administration from online learning. You can enrich your knowledge of specific subjects, such as English literature or the sciences. You can also take a step towards a new level of professionalism by beginning a Master of Education degree program.
Online M.Ed. degree courses are more available than ever, from more quality schools than ever. Teachers can concentrate in Instructional Technology, Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Assessment and Evaluation, Leadership of Educational Organizations, and more. Many M.Ed. programs let teachers work at their own pace and are designed to be finished in as little as 10 months. You could make considerable headway towards your new degree over the summer.
Best of all, online universities work to preserve the best traditional educational information, but are able to pick up new trends and research more rapidly than many site-based programs. Starting your M.Ed. this summer might just be the best decision you ever made.
This article is presented by AIU Online, an online university with numerous program offerings for teachers, including Master of Education degrees.