June 21st, the official start of summer, has always been a special day for me. Not only does it happen to be my birthday, but once I began teaching, it took on a whole new meaning, and it gave me a new reason to celebrate. As a teacher, I now celebrate summer as my opportunity to reflect, recharge, and reinvent. Summer gives me the chance to reflect on all of the happenings of the year. I often think about what went well and what could have been even better with some adjustments. I think about new strategies I have tried or new themes I ventured into, and I begin to envision how I am going to bring the upcoming school year to the next level. How can I reinvent my classroom or refresh the delivery of the curriculum? How can I make this upcoming school year new and unique and offer my next set of students a different experience than maybe one of their siblings had with me in the past? How can I better prepare my students for their futures? What will be relevant, meaningful, and useful to them?
Typically, I begin doing some research on new trends in education and different ways to engage the students into the curriculum. I usually scour some of my favorite websites and catch up on posts from my favorite bloggers, and I turn to TED talks for inspiration and ideas. Sometimes I find some online professional development opportunities that peak my interest. I would love to attend more formal, face-to-face professional development workshops, but because I work full-time as a day camp director in the summer, it is always difficult to make my schedule work when workshops are offered.
However, something happened to me this year that has completely changed my outlook on professional development. Recently, I was encouraged to build a professional Twitter account and join an online community of educators and education-enthusiasts. Always looking for ways to improve, I created an account and entered a world that was foreign to me at first, but now I can’t imagine my life without. Instantly, I was connected with a support system of educators who were constantly sharing ideas and resources that I might not have known about if I hadn’t joined Twitter. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I certainly didn’t realize how much I didn’t know was out there! I was missing out on a world of professional development that was right at my fingertips! It didn’t matter how crazy my schedule was or what dates I was available. Working with my professional learning network on Twitter happened anytime, anywhere. I was exposed to so many new workshops and conferences that do work around my summer schedule that I might not have known about if it wasn’t for my Twitter family.
Discovering this incredible network of innovative, forward-thinking educators was as refreshing as drinking a tall glass of iced tea on a summer day. So what is my plan for Summer 2017 now? My plan is to enjoy a refreshing summer, filled with branching out into my new network of educators. My plan is to take in as much professional development, and as much beach time, as I can, and soak up ways to reinvent the next school year while hopefully soaking up some rays in the process. And, of course, I will be enjoying that tall glass of chilled iced tea on more than one summer day.
Brittany Murro received a BA in Education and a BA in Writing Arts from Rowan University. She currently teaches first grade in Tabernacle, New Jersey. She enjoys serving on various committees and writing curriculum for her district.