EdTech PD, PD, Personal, Technology

5 Ways to Prep for the Next School Year

It’s summer, summer, summertime!

I hope that all of you have been enjoying your summer vacation.  Mine feels like it just started and that the ending is right around the corner.  Whenever summer vacation comes around, I know that I have to find ways to stay current and prepare for the upcoming school year.  Below, I am sharing with you five ways that I will be preparing for the upcoming school year.

#1: Read for PD

I have always been a reader.  On a regular year, it has not been uncommon for me to read 30-50 books.  However, most of those books have been for fun.  There’s nothing wrong with that but, over the last year, I have challenged myself to widen my horizons.  Specifically, I have tried to read at least one professional development book per month over the last year.  And…guess what?  I did it!

Yet…can I admit something?  For the sake of transparency, I will admit that reading professional development books can be a challenge to me.  Mostly because my mind is always going and I have a hard time sitting and slowing down.  Even though it is hard to slow down or my schedule is busy, I have found that reading professional development books have challenged me to do more in my classroom, create better learning experiences for students, and grow as a leader.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, here are a few of my favorite books that I read this school year:

  • Kids Deserve It by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome
  • Dive Into Inquiry: Amplifying Learning and Empowering Student Voice by Trevor MacKenzie
  • The 20Time Project: How Educators Can Launch Google’s Formula for Future-Ready Innovation by Kevin Brookhouser
  • The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps by Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis

So, get your read on!

#2: Develop a PLN on Twitter

Okay, I know what you are thinking…”Is she really talking about Twitter again?”  Yes – yes, I am.  As I’ve mentioned before, I fell down the Twitter rabbit hole last September and I am a better educator because of it.  Join Twitter – just do it.  Start making connections, join some Twitter chats, and grow professionally.  I have developed an amazing PLN this school year and I cannot even imagine where I would be, both personally and professionally, without them.  I always have someone to collaborate with and bounce ideas off.  They challenge me to grow and take chances.Image result for twitter

If you’re interested in participating in some Twitter chats, I encourage you to check out 19 Education Twitter Chats Worth Your Time by ISTE.  It gives you a great starting point for getting going with Twitter chats.

#3: Go to Conferences and Get Involved

If you have the opportunity this summer, I highly encourage you to attend a summit, edcamp, or any type of conference where you can learn and grow.  Since I am very much into educational technology, I would recommend checking out the EdTechTeam summits and bootcamps and the CUE Rockstar events.   Even if these are sold out, I highly recommend that you try to make it to one of their events during the school year.  Also, check out Edcamps which are free, participant-driven conferences for professional development.

Or…Let’s say that you can’t find anything local.  Why not host your own mini-conference and/or EdTech Bootcamp?  We did this at my site during the school year and it was a great success.  It’s something that could easily be done during the summer!  Read more about it here.

Finally, I encourage you to get involved with presenting and sharing resources.  Did you know that you can attend many summits and events for free simply by applying to present?  If you are accepted, you will usually receive a free registration.  Not only will you get to practice your presenting skills but you will also develop relationships with other passionate educators.

#4: Blog and Reflect

Blogging is hard – but it is so good for you.  One of my goals this year has been to blog once a week.  Sometimes it is a challenge and I get major writer’s block.  However, I have found that blogging is an excellent way to share and reflect on my teaching practices.  In fact, it has become something that I love to do, even when it is difficult.

For myself, I have my own domain, hosting through InMotion, and I use WordPress as my blogging platform.  If this seems complicated, start out simple.  Use something like Blogger or WordPress where they will manage everything on the back end for you.  You will have a website URL such as “myblog.blogspot.com” but it is a free and easy way to get started.  Then, set yourself a goal.  How often do you want to blog to share and reflect?  Once a month, once a week?  It’s up to you!  Just give it a try because I know that there are some amazing educators that have a lot to share with the world.

#5: Rest, rest, and rest!

Rest?  What’s that?!  One of my greatest weaknesses in life is that I am terrible with work-life balance.  I have been very encouraged by some of my PLN to learn how to slow down and take a break.  Honestly – I’m terrible at it.  And, I think I’m not alone in this because I know many other educators that are just like me.  However, it is so important to rest and let your brain restart.

As an example, last Sunday I promised myself that I would not do any work.  No blogging, no lesson planning, no Google Innovator project – nothing.  Well, except for just a little bit of tweeting but it wasn’t work… My outcome?  I was so rested on Monday morning.  I was able to get a lot done on several projects because my brain had time to rest and restart.

So, take some time for yourself.   Read a book for fun.  Go on vacation.  Binge watch a TV show.  Spend time with family.  Just take some time to rest.

How are you preparing for the upcoming school year?  I would love to hear your ideas for staying current in education but also taking a break.  Share with us in the comments below!

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