Winter break is a great time for teachers to work on their professional development. They can pursue continuing education courses, seminars or workshops. It’s also an excellent time to read that classroom management or writing workshop book that’s been sitting on the corner of your desk all year. Here are ten tips to improve your teaching skills and stay sharp during winter break.
Attend a Professional Development Conference
If you don’t mind traveling, you might try a professional development conference. Typically, conferences are several days long and have a focus. One conference that could possibly happen during your winter break is The 2010 Annual Convention and Career Tech Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. Another is The American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting 2011. During this conference, held in Jacksonville, FL, there will be “two days of workshops and three days of sessions, plenaries, awards, and more.” Find more information at teacherscount.org. To find teacher workshops and conferences in your area go to sde.com.
Take a Class
Continuing education courses are an important way to keep on top of current education practices. In addition, it is an excellent way to go up on the pay scale. Many online schools, like National University, offer one-month courses. In this way, you could get one or almost one class done over your winter break. Even better, see if you can take an on-campus class at a local university. You’ll probably save yourself some money too.
Write a Grant
If you are looking for some new books or technology resources but don’t have the financial means to get them, consider writing a grant. Find grants at teacherscount.org and teachersnetwork.org.
Visit a Museum
Visiting a museum can be intellectually stimulating. It can give you inspiration on new art, history and science lessons. In addition, you can see if the museum would be a good place to take a class to for a field trip. While there, check to see if the museum has any free resources for your classroom. You might even learn that some museums offer free teacher workshops. The Getty Museum, in Los Angeles, is one museum that offers free teacher workshops.
Have a collaboration session with other colleagues. This is a great time to share resources and successful lessons with other teachers. Make it fun by doing it over lunch or coffee.
Build up Your Resources
A favorite activity of mine is to build up my arsenal of teaching resources. Find tons of free resources at these online sites for teachers.
Plan and Prep
There’s never enough time in the day to plan and prep. While teachers obviously don’t want to spend their whole vacation doing this, it’s a good idea to take some time to plan out some of the more complicated lessons you might be teaching the next semester. Thus, you might want to get materials ready for that big science experiment or poetry unit.
Read a Book About Teaching
Get some new ideas for your classroom by reading a classroom management book, best practices book or book that helps inspire you. One suggestion is Why Don’t Students like School by Daniel T. Willingham or Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students By Their Brains by LouAnne Johnson.
Read a Children’s Book or Young Adult Novel
Of course, there are classic great children’s books and novels like The Giving Tree and Where the Red Fern Grows. Yet, you might want to go to a library or bookstore and find some new books to read to your students. In addition, it’s good to read the books that kids are reading to keep on top of current literary trends.
Keep a daily journal of winter break activities
You are always telling your students how important it is to write on a daily basis. Take your own advice by keeping a journal over winter break. When you come back, show your students your journal. Even better, you can read a couple entries to them when you return to school.
And, of course, don’t forget to relax!