This summer has felt different from my summers gone by. With a toddler in tow, gone are the days of lazing around in my hammock, sipping iced tea and reading a monster stack of books. Now we head to splash pads to fight the heat, learn to walk, and adjust to an ever-changing schedule.
There are those few hours of nap time – oh glorious hours – in which I try to sneak in all of the things I might possibly do for myself. Chores, blogs, laundry, catch up on the latest binge-worthy show. I treasure my son’s two-hour naps and can’t believe when the time has already gone by.
One thing I have managed to sneak into my window of time is a little classroom tune-up. I used to overhaul curriculum or read books to get ideas on new reading and math strategies. This summer, it is all about the little things.
You might find your place in a similar situation so here are a few items from my tune-up to-do list. Feel free to use this or work on your own!
One thing that I constantly work on is my read-aloud list. When I taught 4th grade it was a bit easier because the novels we read usually took up quite some time. In kindergarten, read alouds last anywhere from one day to one week. That kind of turn-around means I am always on the lookout for great books to flesh out my list. I start with back to school books, work on books that go along with curriculum, throw in a few books that teach empathy/sharing/life lessons, etc, and wrap it up with the books that are just too delicious not to read. Those might be favorite authors, new releases that rock, or books I just plain love. I scour new release lists, get recommendations from friends, and follow authors on Twitter to find out what are the best books available.
Throughout the school year I keep a running list of things that work, things that didn’t work, things that need tweaking, etc. In the past, the list has included items such as, “Beekeeper was a great speaker, book him again next year,” or “Geometry math assessment was too long, keep it short next year.” These little notes to myself have proved useful time and time again. During the summer, it is a great time to go through this list and make quick updates from my notes.
Learn One New Thing
While I can’t do the curriculum overhauls as I used to, or dive deep into a new technique or strategy, I can add a few new tricks to my bag. There are tons of internet resources and books that can easily be added to a summer schedule. This summer, I am learning about “loose parts” – a theory about how to incorporate new materials into play. You might find something small like this to learn about. Maybe you’ll learn about a new author to study. Or you’ll take one of my ideas and start a “working/not-working” list for yourself next school year.
What about you? How have you been thinking about education this summer?
Meg is an elementary school teacher at a charter school in Boston, MA. She has been a teacher for over 15 years spanning grades K – 5. Meg has spent time teaching in public, private, and charter schools in Bellingham, WA, Rome, Italy, Los Angeles, CA, Buffalo, NY, and Boston, MA. Meg also runs her own blog AliceEverAfter.com that features her thoughts on children’s literature. She has a passion for picture books and middle-grade books and hopes one day Kate DiCamillo can be her new best friend.