By Teachers, For Teachers
Ah, summer. Is it really that time again? It's hard to believe those amazing children I started with in September are about to move on.
Which means I must come up with activities to keep myself busy until I return to teach the next class of eager faces.
Truth: I know exactly what I'm doing this summer. I've spent much of this school year drooling over exciting tools I wanted to learn to use, unable to eke out the requisite time to learn them during the school year. School keeps me much too busy with classes and homework and report cards and student needs to focus that nine-pound muscle inside my skull on the nerve-wracking horrors of Something New. What if I can't figure it out? What if it sucked up all my skimpy free time and I had none left for, say, reading a book?
No problem, during summer. Now, if a digital delight takes all day, I don't care. I have the time. If you're a techie, you know what I mean. The true bliss of technology is the problem solving--frittering away hours and hours, slogging through help forums and Google searches as the Gordian knot that is the latest tech challenge slowly gives up its marvels.
I know--I'm a little nuts. Let's stipulate to that and move on.
In case you're just motivated enough to try a few, I've put together a list of the top five digital tools you don't want to return to school in September without knowing:
Google Hangouts have such potential for teaching. How amazing to invite students to meet at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon for a chat about Minecraft (Edu of course). Students will flock there because it's new and different. 'Hey Mom, I'm hanging out with Ms. Murray and some classmates online'. You see each other, hear each other, share materials--share screens. All it takes is a little practice to get down the invitation process, how to record it to YouTube--and make that private, of course--and get that comment sidebar up so everyone can talk at once.
You might call them 'webinars'. You get lots of invitations, but put them off because you are either teaching when the event takes place or too tired. No excuses anymore--do it!
That's right--you must. No teacher can exist anymore without a blog. You got through this year saying, I'm going to do it this summer. Summer's here, now you have to do it. I've personally gotten five colleagues started blogging and they are all thrilled (right, Tina? Shari--you know you're blown away).
Sell teaching materials on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you haven't visited TPT, you are missing out. There is a wealth of resources on everything imaginable sold by people just like you. Yes, I said 'sold', but the real benefit is sharing information for the good of all. These are some of the most affordable materials you'll ever purchase. Most of the teachers I know who sell here make it their cheapest market--because they want to help teachers. So dust off your lesson plans, clean up your wall posters, organize that Common Core chart. Go open an account, upload your documents, hook it to your PayPal account, and let TPT do the rest.
Force yourself to do everything possible digitally--you're a (tech) teacher. Students and parents expect it! No more newspapers (go online), no more paperback books (download the free Kindle app to your iPad), no more paper and pencil notes (jot it down in your Smartphone TODO list). If a friend wants to give you her phone number, take it digitally--refuse the paper. Next time you need directions, look them up on Google Maps and email them to your Smartphone--no printing! You will be surprised how fast you'll get used to the digital world if you force yourself.
There you have it. Do these this summer and you'll feel like a different teacher come September.