School is out for summer! Is there anything better than the first days of summer break? I always have a ton of plans for the productive things I will do with my time off—after taking a few days for myself, of course.
Summer break provides teachers with a much-needed chance to relax and regroup after a stressful school year, but it also presents us with an opportunity to continue our own education without having to be absent from our classrooms.
My favorite way to engage in professional development activities during the summer months is by finding sources of online content that is geared towards my needs and interests. By engaging in online learning, I can remain in the comfort of my own home and even follow my own schedule. As an added bonus, many of the opportunities offered online are free, and some even provide Continuing Education (CE) credits. (And don’t think I forgot about apps—there’s one of those, too!)
TeachersFirst is a website that offers tons of teacher resources, including both live and archived professional development sessions on topics that range from blogging in the classroom to working with parents. The sessions are short and easy to manage on a tight schedule. Certificates of completion are available for live session participants, which allows teachers to get CE credits.
Coursera is available both online and through a mobile app, which adds an element of flexibility to the resources that are offered. Coursera's content includes a variety of college-level topics, including teacher education in subjects such as student assessment, using 21st century skills in the classroom, and educational philosophy. Some content is even available for non-English speakers. The courses are free and typically last around six weeks, with a statement of accomplishment being awarded upon completion. Many courses offer a Signature Track option; for a small fee, you’ll receive a verified certificate issued by Coursera and the partnering university.
Concept to Classroom is a website that offers free, self-paced workshops for professional educators. The range of topics is somewhat smaller on this site, but the workshops are intended to cover "hot topics" in the educational field. Some of the current offerings include “Cooperative and Collaborative Learning” and “Teaching to Academic Standards.” Participants can print completion certificates to be used for professional development credits.
EdWeb is another web-based professional development resource that conducts both live sessions and houses a library of archived sessions to aid teachers in completing professional development. Live session participants will receive CE credits, but in the event that you are unable to participate in the live session, you can view the archived material and complete a quiz in order to earn credit. Upcoming topics include digital citizenship, early literacy instruction for students on the autism spectrum, and integrating stretch texts. The topics are timely and highly relevant for practicing teachers.
The Teaching Channel takes a little different approach than the rest of the resources listed here. The professional development is informal, and all the resources are created by teachers to be shared with their colleagues. The website houses a massive collection of videos that range from subject area lesson plans to models of best practices and new teaching methods. The variety is incredible, and the videos are an excellent source of inspiration for a teacher who is looking to bring something new to the classroom.
Engaging in continuing education is essential to staying up-to-date in a profession that changes at such a rapid pace. Online sources such as these allow teachers to work from home while taking advantage of the extra time that summer break provides. If hiring a babysitter and spending warm, beautiful days in a conference room doesn't appeal to you, take the time to explore these options. Kick back, relax, and learn at your own pace!
Lindsey Fuller is a sixth grade teacher in Decatur, Illinois. Her interests are classroom technology integration, literacy instruction, and Common Core curriculum development and implementation. You can read more from Lindsey on these topics at her blog, Tales of a 6th Grade Classroom.