What do teachers do in the summer? Learn!

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Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t have summers “off” to work on their tans and sip Mai Tais. Many work summer jobs to make ends meet, cover a summer session or two, or complete coursework for additional certifications or advanced degrees. And nearly all teachers engage in some type of professional learning. As state and district budgets continue to shrink, more and more of that professional learning is self-directed.

So, if you’re looking to connect with learning opportunities this summer, this blog is for you.

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1. Try online learning modules

The availability of online learning has grown exponentially, and most teachers have participated in an online course during teacher training or through district-provided professional development. A variety of commercial providers offer courses for a fee, but there are also high-quality, evidence-based professional learning modules available at no cost. Our two favorites are:

CONNECT modules, which are designed to help early childhood educators learn about practices for solving dilemmas in early childhood settings
http://community.fpg.unc.edu/

IRIS Center’s training modules, which are designed to help educators move research about the education of students with disabilities into practice
http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/

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2. Join an online professional learning network

There are several online professional learning networks where you can engage in discussion forums, blogs, webinars, and more. Here are just a few to explore:

The Educator’s Personal Learning Network site for educators
http://edupln.ning.com/

edWeb social networking site for educators
http://home.edweb.net/

The Future of Education social networking site
http://www.futureofeducation.com/

TeachAde online community for teachers
http://www.teachade.com/

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3. Use social media

Social media can be about much more than posting vacation photos on Facebook or Instagram. Many educators set up professional accounts on social media platforms specifically for professional learning. The great thing about social media for educators is that it can quickly connect you with other educators, which makes the professional learning social, interactive, and on-target to your needs and interests. Here are some of the ways teachers are using social media to learn and support one another.

Twitter
It’s easy to write off Twitter as the latest social media fad, but teachers are crafty! They’re using Twitter to keep up with the latest trends in education and to create informal professional networks. Newer teachers are particularly adept at using Twitter to share ideas, support one another, and explore topics of interest. If you’re new to Twitter, these resources can help you dive in:

25 Twitter Tips For Students, Parents, And Teachers
http://edudemic.com/2013/03/25-twitter-tips-for-students-parents-and-teachers/

“Summer of Twitter” Teacher Challenge: Join Twitter and experience the collaboration and sharing that happens between teachers on Twitter
http://educationismylife.com/summer-of-twitter-teacher-challenge/

The Complete Guide To Twitter Hashtags For Education
http://www.teachthought.com/twitter-hashtags-for-teacher/

Pinterest
Pinterest is a social network dominated by young women, which is also a description of the field of teaching! Young teachers are entering the teaching profession already connected on Pinterest, and as native users they do a great job of sharing practical resources and ideas there. If you’re looking for ideas on classroom organization, bulletin boards, printable classroom materials, and other practical resources, Pinterest is the place to be. Here are a few articles to help get you started:

NICHCY blog – What’s the big deal about Pinterest?
http://nichcy.org/whats-the-big-deal-about-pinterest

Five-Minute Film Festival: Pinterest for Teaching and Learning
http://www.edutopia.org/blog/film-festival-pinterest-teaching-learning

Handy infographic of ways that educators can use Pinterest
http://mashable.com/2012/04/10/pinterest-teachers/

10 Pinterest boards every teacher must know about
http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2012/11/10-pinterest-boards-every-teacher-must.html

Other social media sites for educators

EduClipper is like Pinterest, but specifically for educators: https://educlipper.net/

Edmodo is a Facebook-like network that connects teachers and students: http://www.edmodo.com/

TeacherTube has collections of helpful videos by grade level or topic: http://teachertube.com/

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4. Take that well-earned break

We hope that this blog connects you to resources and ideas you can use in your classroom, come fall, and that it saves you time now in searching for ways and places to add to your professional skills this summer. And just in case you also want to relax and enjoy the glories of free time that’s all your own—if anyone deserves the break, teachers do!—we’ll leave you with a few fun links to get your summer off to a good start.

Funny Things Only Teachers Understand!
http://pinterest.com/annmarie597/funny-things-only-teachers-understand/

12 Things Teachers Should Do Over Summer Break
http://learnmegood2.blogspot.com/2009/06/12-things-teachers-should-do-over.html

The Teacher’s Guide to Summer Break: Tips for Fun, Relaxation, & Professional Development
http://www.readinghorizons.com/blog/post/2012/04/27/Teachers-Summer-Break.aspx

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NOTICE: The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) is no longer in operation. Our funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) ended on September 30, 2013. Our website and all its free resources will remain available until September 30, 2014.