Summer is the Time to Learn for Teachers

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 20, 2016  in: Summer PD, ,

The biggest complaint from teachers is that there is never enough time.  Once the school year begins, the time just flies by – there is so much to do. But, summer…. Ah, summer.  This is the season when teachers have time.  Summer is the time to learn.  Yay Summer!

Summer Spark at the University School in Milwaukee was the perfect way to kick off my summer of learning.  I have to admit that the only reason I decided to go was that my sister, Julie Smith ( was presenting.  It was worth it, it was totally worth it!

The thing about Summer Spark is that it is relatively small and so friendly!  Even though they bring in the heavy hitters of education, everyone there is approachable and ready to share. A definite small town atmosphere with big city connections.  The sessions were fabulous and the speakers were engaging.  But the best thing about this conference was that I met so many inspiring educators.  Now when I see them on Twitter, I actually know them!  I’ve expanded my network and that is the best part.

Each morning began with an inspiring keynote speech.  The two keynoters, George Couros and Don Wettrick, both spoke about the needed changes in education, that we can’t keep doing the same old things and expect different results.  Each inspired me to think about my own class and how I can empower my students even more. I have ideas….

In the sessions that followed I learned about analyzing the media from Julie Smith, gamifying my content from Michael Matera, using toys and Legos from Quinn Rollins, planning genius hour from Don Wettrick, knocking down classroom walls from Heidi Jones, trying out new tech tools from Matt Miller, and using GAFE from Aggie Salter.  Each session was fabulous!   The passion that these presenters brought was inspiring to everyone.  I have lists of ideas based on what I learned.

After dinner on Monday, a group of us hosted the weekly #tlap chat on Twitter.  I realized that a Twitter chat is so much more fun with a group, especially sitting around a big table at a restaurant.

The best thing about Summer Spark is that it happens at the beginning of summer, when teachers actually have time to learn.  My plan for summer learning is to go over my notes and lists of ideas and think about how to incorporate these ideas in my class for next year.  I’m inspired and ready to start my summer of learning.

What are you planning to learn this summer?

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