The Summer Challenge: Teacher as Learner

Bernard Bull The Lutheran Educator Leave a Comment

Are you ready for the summer challenge? It’s that time of year again. Some finished the school year already. Others are nearing the finish line. Regardless, summer is an interesting time for teachers. Of course, there is the stereotype that teachers just don’t work in the summer. They sit in the backyard on their hammock, drinking their favorite tropical beverage and doing as little as possible associated with work or even the intellectual life. For those of us who work in education, we know that the story is usually quite different.

Yes, this is a time when people try to find a little more time to relax and rejuvenate, but there is more to it than that.

  • Some are teaching, tutoring, and/or leading camps throughout the summer.
  • Others are taking on a second job to make ends meet. Many are using this as time to make progress on their graduate programs. (As a professor at Concordia University Wisconsin, I am especially busy in the summer helping teachers find the right graduate classes to help them reach new professional goals.)
  • Then there are the people starting new degree programs in everything from educational leadership to literacy, special education to educational technology, theology to history and STEM education.
  • Still others use this as a chance to travel. Yes, this might be vacation, but it is also an incredible opportunity to feed our curious minds, giving us experiences and ideas that we can use in our teaching.
  • Many are also building lessons and resources for the next school year. I was just chatting with a teacher who finished classes on a Friday and was already excitedly building project-based lesson plans the next Monday, looking forward to trying them out with students the next year.
  • Teachers are seeking out conferences and other events to deepen their knowledge, refine their skills, and expand their sense of the possibilities.
  • Most are creating their “must read” book lists (if this is you, I hope you have the new CPH book The Pedagogy of Faith on that list).
  • Then there are the school-wide meetings and plans. Teachers and others continue to meet to work on school projects and plans throughout the summer; the flexible schedules allow them to engage in some of the strategic and creative work that goes into keeping our schools vibrant and relevant.

In other words, summers are wonderfully busy times, but hopefully inspiring and rejuvenating as well. The regular schedule of a school day often does not give teachers much choice or voice on when (sometimes even how) they do these things, so summer is a respite from the regular schedule. As such, many things are possible that would be hard to accomplish during the sometimes tyrannical urgency of a regular school year and schedule.

This brings me to you. What are your plans for the summer? How will you create your own personalized and custom-designed summer plans that will allow you to rejuvenate, feed your curiosity and love of learning, enjoy time with family and friends, expand your sense of what is possible for teaching and learning, get up to speed on current trends and research, begin plans for the next school year, and so much more? To be a teacher is to be a learner as well, so how will you embrace your role as learner this summer?

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