Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Educators Share Their Thoughts and Experiences with Summer Workation

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

As Summer Workation continues to grow, we are always looking to hear from teachers. We want to learn about their experiences with finding summer growth opportunities so that we can continue to ensure that our services are adapting to meet teachers’ needs. Below, you can read what a few dedicated educators had to share with us recently:

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Ms. Stephanie Bullock
4th Grade Teacher
The Lovett School
Atlanta, GA

Although summer is indeed a time to relax, how important is it for teachers to spend this time away from the classroom learning new skills? Do you think that Summer Workation can help teachers use this time in a more productive manner?

Teachers who are committed to professional growth view summer as a time to hone their skills, organize and pre-plan for the next group of eager students, and grow their thinking in the areas that interest them. I believe that it is vitally important for teachers to use the summer months to engage in professional reading, reflect on the previous school year with colleagues, and strengthen skills as necessary to meet changing students’ needs. I think Summer Workation can absolutely assist teachers in finding summer opportunities to help them achieve those goals.

In the past, how difficult (or easy) has it been for you or your colleagues to find summer growth opportunities? Do you wish that there were more options available to teachers during the summer?

I wouldn’t call it easy to find summer professional development opportunities beyond what my principal and school suggest. Once a teacher determines his or her specific area of interest, it’s typically up to him or her to locate conferences or workshops that serve his/her purposes for the summer. I think that a list of various categories (i.e. educational technology, reading instruction and literacy, creative writing, mathematics, etc.) with corresponding opportunities for professional development by geographic location would be extremely beneficial to teachers.

What do you think of Summer Workation’s goal to help teachers become better and more effective educators? Considering the services that we provide, do you think that this a realistic goal for our organization?

I do believe that with Summer Workation’s assistance, in the past I would have been better plugged in to the resources out there for me. I absolutely think this is a worthwhile tool! It streamlines the summer planning process for teachers and offers to connect them to businesses or organizations with similar visions. Great idea!

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Mr. Jason Flom
4th Grade Teacher
Cornerstone Learning Community
Tallahassee, FL

Tell us about your summer experiences and the types of growth opportunities that you seek out during your time away from the classroom.

As a father, husband and avid traveler, I relish my teaching schedule. Summertime, for me, is meant for exploring, learning, and spending time laughing with my daughter. When it comes to summer professional development I tend toward individual studies or conferences/institutes with a specific focus.

Do you think that Summer Workation can help teachers use their summer breaks in a more productive or meaningful manner?

I do know teachers who work during the summer (I salute them), but the majority of them find work locally in order to be near family and other responsibilities. However, I think the database your organization manages is extremely vital, especially for teachers new to the field who still have summers free to roam the countryside in a professional context. You guys have probably already explored/developed this area, but I would encourage you to continue marketing your services to pre-service teachers at universities who might really benefit from seeing teaching opportunities beyond the classrooms in their local districts. Education majors would find it incredibly helpful to make money in a field that adds to their professional experience-something that would increase their chances of finding a quality teaching post directly out of school.

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Ms. Lisa Seay
6th Grade Science, Pre-AP Science & Gifted/Talented Teacher
Clyde Boyd Middle School
Sand Springs, OK

How successful have you or your colleagues been at finding meaningful summer jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities? Do you think that Summer Workation can make the process of finding summer growth opportunities easier?

Most of the teachers I know must work during the summers, just to make ends meet. They work at the local fruit stands, or mow lawns, or teach summer school. It would be wonderful if these educators had the opportunity to find summer jobs that would allow them to support their families as well as improve their teaching skills. It has been very easy for me to find summer opportunities, because I am in the position that I do not have to have a second income during the summer months. Still, it would be much easier to have this information in one convenient place, rather than spend hours going through journals and countless e-mails, culling through the spam for those few nuggets of professional development gold.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I feel that a big part of my job as a teacher is to be a professional learner. From content to pedagogy…I’ll never know all there is to know. But I can sure try!

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Ms. Tara Clark
12th Grade British Literature Teacher & Drama Director

In your own opinion, how should teachers spend their summer breaks and how can Summer Workation help?

Each teacher is different. I think it is important, one way or another, to utilize the summer break to recharge. For some, this will mean travel. For others, it means working in a field that interests them outside of education. For some, it may mean going back to school. I think teachers should consider summer as a time to get themselves mentally prepared for the next year, but it is also a time to improve upon what they do. English teachers may visit sites related to the works they teach, science teachers may take part in a workshop, history teachers may go on a dig somewhere. I think the more resources out there dedicated to teachers, the better. If Summer Workation can help teachers find what it is that makes them go back to school inspired for a new year, great!

What do you think of Summer Workation’s goal of helping teachers become stronger educators.

I believe the best teachers are those who always want to be better. I think Summer Workation seems to have the right goals in mind to help teachers. If I knew of opportunities that would help me in the classroom, I would be more likely to participate in more over the summers.

Have you noticed that the number of summer schools has been shrinking in recent years? Has this impacted your search for summer job opportunities in the past?

I didn’t notice, but honestly, I want to spend my summer doing something besides teaching! I think summer gives us a chance to grow as individuals and that growth can benefit us in the classroom.

Summer School Teaching Positions Hard to Find

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

On July 1st, 2009, Sam Dillon of the New York Times published an article titled “Facing Deficits, Some States Cut Summer School.” While the article explicitly discusses the dire circumstances of the summer enrichment programs that students across the nation depend on, it also highlights the shrinking set of opportunities available to teachers during the summer months. This decrease in opportunities underscores the timeliness and need for Summer Workation.

Sam Dillon writes:

Nearly every school system in Florida has eviscerated or eliminated summer school this year, and officials are reporting sweeping cuts in states from North Carolina and Delaware to California and Washington. The cuts have come as states across the country are struggling to approve budgets, and California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, declared a fiscal state of emergency on Wednesday.

Although the number of summer schools had indeed been shrinking in the years leading up to this recession, the struggling economy has further exacerbated the problem as many states cut summer enrichment programs in order to save money. This phenomenon is clearly problematic for children, particularly those who depend on summer programs to help them catch up or prepare for the upcoming school year.

However, millions of teachers have also been affected as summer prospects have been severely limited. Teachers are effectively made helpless and are unable to fulfill their calling during the summer months as more and more programs lose funding. Even if teaching is not an available option during their summer breaks, it is important for educators to engage in meaningful activities that will enhance and strengthen their skills in the classroom. However, such activities are often difficult to find independently.

Many teachers who have been shut out of the classroom during the summer months settle for the modest, but steady, paycheck that comes with a retail or restaurant job. However, such jobs may offer little potential for growth and they provide few meaningful experiences that teachers can take back to the classroom and share with their students.

The issue boils down to the following: Some teachers have relied on summer schools for summertime employment. Teaching summer school has traditionally provided educators with continuity, familiarity and relevant experience. When summer schools are closed, more teachers bear the responsibility of finding alternate growth opportunities that can ultimately help them grow as educators. This is certainly becoming an increasingly challenging task. However, teachers must know that Summer Workation is here to help!

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Teaching Technology

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Over the past couple decades, the Internet, along with other emerging technologies, have been taking on an increasingly involved role in shaping our society. Generation Y, sometimes referred to as the “Net Generation,” has come of age during an era of unprecedented technological breakthroughs, which have forever changed the lives of countless people around the globe. They have become masters of the mouse and although they have undoubtedly heard the horrifying stories from their baby boomer parents, they still struggle to recall a time when email, instant messaging, video conferencing, blogging, and online media and networking sites did not yet exist.

Those from the Net Generation are likely to consider the aging baby boomers old-fashioned since they are not always up to date on the latest gadgets and computer tricks. However, this does not mean that the baby boomers are idly standing by as the world becomes increasingly connected by means of groundbreaking technologies and an ever-expanding network of digital communication devices. In fact, many are making a conscious effort to remain abreast of new technology in an attempt to improve and enhance communications with their sons and daughters of the Net Generation. This idea is easily observed when we consider America’s schools and the great lengths that teachers go to in order to bring into the classroom new technology that could revolutionize the way students learn. Teachers not only understand that today’s students have a genuine interest in technology given the prominent role it has played in their upbringing, but they also know that when successfully integrated into the classroom learning experience, new technology can provide a wealth of educational resources that enable students to learn more effectively.

Although its benefits are widely recognized, technology’s role in the advancement of education has been taking on a new level of importance within the last few years. With the start of the new millennium, the world witnessed the emergence and rising popularity of online social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Although the majority of people who use these sites are likely to be members of the Net Generation, older folks, including teachers and school administrators, are also logging in to connect with others in the education field and share valuable advice, ideas, and resources with one another. The improved communication that these social networking sites offer enables teachers to acquire additional tools that strengthen their skills as educators and ensure their students’ success, which, of course, is the ultimate goal.

Summer Workation is similarly taking advantage of new technologies in order to revolutionize teachers’ summer breaks. Several years ago, it would have been nearly impossible for an organization to offer teachers summer support in a scalable or affordable way. By using the Internet to make information universally available and social media to connect with those in the education field, Summer Workation is able to help teachers optimize their summer breaks by linking them with rewarding workations (working vacation growth opportunities). The hope is that teachers will continue to grow and learn during the summer months so that upon their return to the classroom, they can integrate revolutionary new ideas and technology into the curriculum for the benefit of their students’ overall learning experience.

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Trends in Education Favor Summer Workation

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Summer Workation has started to think that Summer Workation is not only a good idea, but it is also a timely one. Recent macroeducational trends in policy/research suggest that the education world will be very receptive to Summer Workation.

I want to share an example with you that demonstrates this changing climate.

The Gates Foundation has recently made a pretty sharp shift in their education funding strategy. Previously the Gates Foundation focused on developing strong small school models, however recently the Foundation has discovered that these investments have achieved mixed results (read more ). The Gates Foundation has now turned to focus on developing effective teachers.

The primary reason for this change is because the foundation has realized that: teachers are pivotal to student success, teacher quality is extremely variable and there is little centralized energy placed in cultivating effective teachers. This argument is almost identical to the case for Summer Workation! You can check out a speech by Bill Gates himself at the annual TED conference that talks more about this shift:

 

(The whole speech is interesting, but the relevant part starts at the 8 minute mark).

As one of the largest funders of education in the US, the Gates Foundation really drives what is happening in education innovation. As the Gates Foundations puts the spotlight on effective teaching, we feel Summer Workation is well placed to make an impact!

Teacher in Classroom