The best laid plans for summer are created during the winter. The summer is a time that teacher’s covet because of the passion they put into their profession during the school year. It is a time to recharge and be with family and friends. It is also a time for world-class professional development opportunities that can be attended for little to no cost, so I choose to plan ahead to give myself the best chance at getting them.
The first step to getting great professional development is to know what is out there. Sure, your district or region probably has some good training opportunities over the summer, but what if you could get better? There are a variety of ways to find out about opportunities available. You could ask the curriculum specialist at your district, you can do a basic Google search, you could seek out Facebook pages dedicated to such things, you can check with your favorite college, etc. I wish there were a place that had those sorts of things listed out for me (and if there is, please shoot me an e-mail and let me know) but there is not so you have to go find them.
This process has lead me to a few outstanding learning opportunities that were either paid for or low cost. The Texas State Historical Association has a number of training opportunities scattered throughout the state every school year. Humanities Texas likewise has a number of opportunities that they will pay for subs to attend or pay for travel during the summer. I have also attended a week long training through Mount Vernon that was completely paid for. The common theme is that I found the opportunity and applied.
Apply and Learn
The next step is to apply. Seems simple, but every time I apply for opportunities in the summer I forget some of the applications due to the busyness of a school year. Make sure you follow up with recommendations if you need to. Make sure you format things the way they request them. Make sure it is completed on time.
Sometimes you will get picked and some times you will not. The key is to ask questions if you are not picked (if you can). If I am turned down, I will e-mail the organization and ask for feedback on my application. Use the rejection as a learning opportunity for the following year. If their response is you are lacking a specific quality, work on it over the next school year. Sometimes you will get actionable responses and sometimes you will not, but it’s worth an e-mail.
My Current Applications
For the summer of 2019 I am taking some big swings with my professional learning. I have applied for a number of trainings through Gilder Lehrman. These are very competitive, so I made sure to get my application in early. I also applied for a fellowship to help write curriculum for a national historical site. I am very hopeful for this one, and should I get it I will definitely update my progress.