5 Must-Read Tips for Your Summer Learning
It’s hard to believe that summer is almost here! This school year has flown by.
Back when I was a teacher, I always looked forward to the summer—for obvious reasons, yes—but also because it allowed me a chance to hit the reset button, to reflect on what went well during the year and where I could make improvements, and to seek out new ideas and professional learning that I could apply to the coming year.
Just like my students had their summer reading lists, I always had a stack of professional learning books that I was looking forward to devouring. Some summers I made it through my entire list and other summers I ended up going deeper on one or two topics to really hone my learning in those specific areas. Regardless, I always found that talking about the books with colleagues helped deepen my learning and sparked innovative ways to apply the ideas to my classroom.
Whether you plan to read one professional resource or an entire stack, here are 5 tips to help you with your summer book study.
1. Be Purposeful
Just because "everyone" is reading so-and-so’s latest book right now doesn’t mean it’s the best book for you and your professional learning journey. Think critically about where you want to grow as an educator and find books from a publisher or author who you trust on those topics.
2. Create a Group
It is always fun to find a few teacher friends to read with you. Not only will it help with accountability, you'll have people to talk to about the content of the book, share perspectives and application ideas, and plan for the coming school year. If you don’t have any local friends to read and discuss with, I’ve included links to some online summer book studies with popular education bloggers who are helping facilitate discussion.
3. Set a Regular Time to Discuss
Whether it’s online or in person, select a regular day and time to discuss each chapter of the book. This will help with accountability and will let people plan other fun summer activities and trips around your book study commitments. If you get together in person, consider meeting at a local coffee shop or have people take turns hosting and provide snacks and beverages. Here are some tips for discussion:
- Take notes in the margins or in a notebook as you read. Jot down something that strikes you, an idea you want to try, or something that you want to get others’ opinions about.
- Avoid words such as "like" and “dislike.” Instead, talk about a time when you experienced something from the book in your own classroom, how you felt as you read the book, or an idea that you had and want to try next year.
- Support your views. Just like we ask our students to do, share text evidence to support your ideas.
4. Share Questions Ahead of Time
It helps the discussion stay on track if people have a base set of questions that will be discussed at each meeting. If the book you are reading doesn’t have a book study guide available from the publisher or author, here are some discussion questions that you can use as starters:
- What did you already know about this chapter/book’s subject before you read this chapter/book?
- What stood out to you most about this chapter/book?
- What is the most important thing you learned in this chapter/book?
- What ideas do you have that you want to try out in your classroom now?
- What will you start/stop doing as a result of reading this chapter/book?
5. Keep It Simple
Books studies and discussions don’t have to be complicated to be effective. The most important part is to actively learn something new that you can apply to your teaching to become a stronger educator over time. In order to authentically build a love of learning in our students we need to pursue new learning ourselves!