- Students: The Original American Revolutionaries - February 21, 2018
- The Case of the Shrinking Education Department - November 12, 2017
- We Must Teach the Worst of our History; Not Glorify It - August 14, 2017
- Transgender Student Rights are Human Rights - February 23, 2017
- Why "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" Still Matters in 2017 - January 16, 2017
- No Right to an Education: Detroit Schools and the Secretary of Education Nominee - November 29, 2016
- I Think I Failed You - A Civics Teacher's Letter to her Former Students - November 16, 2016
- Transforming the 'Trump Effect' in Schools - October 27, 2016
- Implicit Bias: The Missed Post-Debate Discussion - October 4, 2016
- 15 Years after 9/11: Days of Infamy & Memory as History - September 12, 2016
To buy Cari's book that details her sudden unemployment, "How to Finish the Test When Your Pencil Breaks" please click here.
Summer Break! It’s almost here, and within the next month, most teachers across the country will have at least a few minutes to breath a sigh of relief. These days, it feels like there is less and less time amidst all the pressure of the school year to think about professional development or your own career path. But this summer, consider taking some time to get out from under the domination of the system itself. You can liberate yourself as an educator if you do just a few things to take charge of your own professional life. These few easy steps can not only up your game in the classroom, but expand your expertise outside the classroom, and give you a broader canvass on which to paint your skills. It is time for you to consider how you can move your professionalism to the next level. Don’t just merely exist, bound by your school or district’s whims when it comes to your career – take charge!
This summer, try to work on these 5 areas, and next year will be the year your professional life blooms into something fresh and invigorating!
- Plan Ahead. All teachers spend time planning, but this summer, think about your entire year next year. Backwards plan from the end of the coming school year so that you have calendars made out with at least the units you will need. Your school should release next year’s calendar so you can even plan around breaks, conferences and other scheduling issues. Planning ahead will also give you room to up your game to new skill levels.
For instance, knowing all your plans allows you to start thinking about flipping your classroom – preparing ahead for digital pre-work and classroom hands-on time. Flipping your classroom - even partially - will engage new technology, important content, and student choice into a brand new form of teaching for you. Just this change will enhance your expertise, give you opportunities to be a leader with your colleagues, and open doors for you to teach beyond your own classroom.
- Update that Resume! Teachers often neglect their resumes. The nature of the profession is such that most teachers land a job, and then stay comfortably within that school for years. There is often no need to keep an updated resume …until the last few years, when an education career became much more unpredictable. Even if you feel secure in your job, spend some time updating your resume. If you start expanding your professional life, you will find new uses for it and new items to add to it. Don’t forget to list your various skill sets and levels of expertise. Include professional development you have done or taught yourself. Consider how you may have added to your education since the last time you updated the resume. All of these things prepare you as a professional to have a context for your career
- Network! Most teachers are by now at least engaging with social networking through Facebook. But now is the time to start using social networking to your professional advantage:
- Take some time this summer to start or update your LinkedIn profile. Beef it up with a list of your skills and your accomplishments. Find connections and link up with other professionals, even those who might not necessarily be in education. You never know where your connections may lead you! You will also benefit greatly should you have the unfortunate experience of losing your position. Connections already in place will make a huge difference for your continued work in the field.
- If you are not already on Twitter – join up! There are vibrant education discussions take place on a daily basis on Twitter. Conversations and connections with educators around the country will not only give you fresh ideas, but you will be able to share your own expertise! Start with following writers and news leaders that will give you new information. A great hashtag to follow is #edchat, where educators of all varieties gather to share ideas.
Other networks are out there as well – take some time this summer to build your online professional life. From now on, it will be as important as your brick-and-mortar professional self – maybe even more so. It is time to step up your online presence and give your professionalism a digital boost!
- Join Up! If you are not already a member of at least two professional organizations, now is the time to join. Most schools and districts don’t spend a lot of time exposing their teachers to professional organizations. In fact, most of the time, teachers remain very isolated from other educators in their field except those in their own districts. Professional organizations give you fresh materials, expose you to new writings in content and pedagogy, and connect you to a broader world of education. Start with broader associations, like the ASCD, and then look for the professional organizations in your own content area. The annual fee will be well worth your time when you get the opportunity to attend conferences, receive new materials, and connect with experts in the field. Being a member of a professional organization will enhance your professional life in numerous ways, and will give you more opportunities to be the best educator you can be.
- Attend and Present! Speaking of conferences…. This summer, make it your goal to attend at least one professional conference next year. If you haven’t done this in a while, prepare this summer by looking into upcoming conferences and finding out if your district has a policy to support you financially to attend. Even if it doesn’t, think about ways you can attend anyway: by finding one in your area so you don’t have to travel far, or going in with other educators.
If you already regularly attend conferences, now is the time to up your game! This summer make it your goal to submit at least one proposal to speak at a conference. Conferences are always soliciting for presenters that can add to the diversity of voices on their platform. Conquer your fears and share your expertise with your colleagues and others! Another way to do this is to lead a professional development among your peers in your own learning community. Begin to teach others in your field, and you will become an even better teacher.
It’s time for you to expand your sphere of influence, and to take ownership of your professional life. Use this summer to rest and rejuvenate. But also make it the summer you begin to extend your own career possibilities and start thinking outside the classroom!