Just as professional athletes use the off-season to improve their skills to prepare for the upcoming campaign, teachers can do the same. I recommend choosing one aspect of teaching that you would like to pursue in depth. One topic may not seem like very much, but I have found that trying to take on more than that can be counter-productive, especially if we plan to travel during the summer months, work a second job, or enjoy some extended, well-deserved “down time” with family and friends.
Two summers ago I bought a new computer and promised myself that I would learn as much new technology as possible in the time that I had. I signed up for one-to-one training at my local Apple store, attended the free workshops the store provided, and created new lessons during “Personal Projects” sessions. I also read two books about incorporating technology into the classroom and watched some tutorial videos that addressed specific questions I had. During that summer I learned how to use iMovie, Pages (Apple’s current word processing program), and iPhoto.
Since that time I have made several instructional videos to share with my students and taken many more “action shots” of my students than I had before participating in this training. I now use Pages to create classroom written materials, rosters, and fliers. I also use Pages for my writing-related projects, including my website newsletter. Working on these projects was a joyful experience because I could work on them whenever I had the time and because there was great variety in what I was doing.
My summer experience learning how to use my Macbook shows that what may seem like a fairly simple undertaking can quickly grow into a larger endeavor that takes on a life of its own. At the outset I didn’t expect to be participating in as many sessions, watching as many videos, and creating as much new content as I did, but these opportunities presented themselves, and I wanted to take advantage of them. Had I tried focusing on more than one initiative, I would have been overwhelmed, and summer might have stopped feeling like summer.