This is the inaugural post for a series on Summer PD for Pre-service Teachers. In this weekly series, I’ll be tackling topics like:
- PLNs for Pre-Service Teachers
- Must-Reads for Pre-Service Teachers
- How to Prepare for Student Teaching
- How to Develop a Literate Life–and Why You Need One Before You Get in the Classroom
I’ll interview several teachers who just finished student teaching and have some wise words to share about that experience. I’ll address some of my pre-service teachers’ burning questions about classroom management, failure, motivating students, and designing curriculum.
You might wonder why pre-service teachers need summer PD. After all, they’re learning the other nine months of the year. Shouldn’t they take summers off?
Even though pre-service teachers are learning in the courses they take throughout the school year, they rarely have an opportunity for self-directed learning, exploration, and making in their college courses. They are rarely in charge of the curriculum. They are rarely invited to connect with others outside of the classroom. And all too often, assignments and requirements take the place of the literate lives so necessary for effective classroom teaching. #SummerPD is one solution to what’s missing in many teacher education programs.
Here are 4 reasons why pre-service teachers need #summerPD:
It’s never too early to think about longevity in a career where 50% of new teachers quit within 5 years. I don’t have any research to support the claim that participating in #summerPD keeps teachers in their classrooms, but it makes sense. Teaching is enormously challenging and complex work, and even the very best teachers fail on a daily basis. Good teaching requires continued learning. Much as I try to improve my teaching throughout the school year, the fact is, you don’t often have time during the school year to do much more than tweak your practices. Real improvement needs time–to reflect, think, read, write, talk. Real improvement also needs support–which could come from professional development reading, conversations with colleagues, attendance at conferences. Time and support are both easier to come by during the summer months.
Teaching can be isolating work–but so can being a student. #SummerPD offers so many opportunities to connect with other teachers by building a PLN, sharing your own learning, attending conferences, and participating in groups like #cyberPD and #TeachersWrite. More than anything else, my PLN keeps me excited about teaching and constantly improving my practice.
I often find that the most pressing questions of my pre-service teachers are not answered or even addressed in any of their classes. Pre-service teachers may be learning during the other nine months of the year, but they often aren’t learning what they most want or need to know. #SummerPD invites us to create and follow our own paths to learning, to develop expertise in the areas we think are important.
My pre-service teachers often tell me they stop reading and writing for themselves in college. Too many assigned books and papers and projects. For English majors, reading and writing burnout is a real problem: all too often at the end of the school year, the very last thing my pre-service teachers want to do is read or write. In some cases, they’ve forgotten why they loved reading or writing in the first place. In the summer, we can focus on renewing our pleasure and joy in our content area and in the skills we were excited to teach in the first place.
Teachers, why do you value #summerPD? What are your plans for learning this summer?
Photo CC-BY Voluntary Amputation