The end of the school year always marked a momentous, eagerly awaited occasion for me and my friends as students. Even before the end was in clear sight, anticipation would begin to tempt our focus. There is a reason the final month of school tends to be chaotic. Even as an educator, I find myself resorting back to my old ways, daydreaming of the impending relaxation that summertime brings. However, summertime does not mark the endpoint of the school year for all educators. With summer comes summer school, tutoring opportunities, and options for professional development.
It can take some acclimation, but if summer teaching and learning is on the schedule, educators can make the transition easier on themselves by following a few solid guidelines:
Make grading easy on yourself. Yes, there will be written assignments that you will have to assess. However, do your best to create learning opportunities that allow you to assess student learning while you are together in the classroom. Inquiry-based discussions, group presentations, and participation are great elements to use as assessment indicators. Also, keep homework to a minimum or use part of the class sessions to check and review homework assignments.
Keep students engaged by allowing for student choice as much as possible. If weather permits and the lesson can be taken outside, allow your students the option to complete school work outside. Be sure that work is still the main focus, and that everyone is supervised. Have students complete the readings in the shade while getting some fresh air, or practice peer editing in small groups out on a picnic table.
Maintain structure and continuity while planning the weekly schedule. No matter the age, kids and teens need consistency. Yes, summer school classes tend to be a little less formal. But it is still just as important to set a motivating tone in the classroom. Keep yourself organized and well-planned in advance so that your main task becomes delivering meaningful instruction. Consider creating a course outline or syllabus with graded assignment due dates and other important information so that students know what to expect. An outline also helps to keep you on schedule throughout the weeks.
Provide incentives for a job well-done. Students participating in summer school programs are likely struggling in significant academic areas and may be reluctant to be there. Teachers can dig into their bag of tricks to help incentivize the more reluctant or checked-out learners. If you know that a student is lacking motivation, discuss or negotiate incentives for hard work in the summer course.
Be sure to schedule wisely. If you know that you have a required professional development course to complete or a certification to acquire, make that the first priority when scheduling. You want to be sure that course dates and meeting times do not overlap. You also want to be certain that courses do not fill up before you have gotten the opportunity to register.
Look for online professional development options. This way you will not only avoid the commute or traffic, but you can also complete the course work a little more flexibly, and from the comfort of your own home.