After you have recharged your batteries, spent quality time with friends and family and reflected on the past year your mind will inevitably wander towards thoughts of next school year. That’s the nature of this career – you can’t help but care about providing the best for your students. If you’re looking for ways to develop professionally, in your own time, and for no cost, here are my Top 10 suggestions.
#1 Read A Blog – The fact that you’re reading this suggests that blogs might be your thing. Free, easy to access on your device and also easy to collate using the Feedly app, there are a wealth of excellent teachers out there willing to share their resources with others. Take time to read a blog or too – I love the blog from Teacher Toolkit and also recommend the slowchathpe site from Justin Schleider.
Want to take things one step further? Why not start a blog of your own, or consider writing a guest blog post for someone else (hint, hint).
#2 Listen to a Podcast – This medium continues to expand with health and physical education teachers producing some really good content. In addition to the Voxcast, The PE Geek Podcast and SHAPE America‘s podcast be sure to check out the back catalog from – The Fundamental Movement and Run Your Life.
I highly recommend that you also check out the work of the Podcast Brunch Club. Think book club for podcast afficionados. Each month they collate themed podcasts and include a sweet Spotify playlist. Recently I tried something similar specifically for health teachers. I wrote about about my podcast addiction here.
#3 Watch a TED Talk – Available in audio and visual format, the TED talks continue to churn out awesome resources that can be used for professional development or used in your classroom. Here’s a link to ALL TED talks.
If you prefer watching documentaries, here’s a blog post with my selection of 9 podcasts to watch on Netflix this summer.
#4 Check Out Your Library – It may have been a while since you checked out your local library. They’ve moved into the 21st century with audio books available via apps. You no longer need to visit the library (but I suggest you should) and you NEVER have to worry about books being overdue as they drop off of your device when your loan period is up. My local library and my school library use different apps and I have the Overdrive and Libby apps available for me to listen to or read books on my iPad or Kindle.
Want to take this one step further? Get together with other educators and start a book club discussion. If you’re looking for #summerreads inspiration check out this blog post which includes details of THREE slowchat book discussions being run this summer via Twitter and Voxer.
#5 Access a Webinar – There are so many great health and physical education webinars available for you to access from the comfort of your own home. I recommend that you check out SPARK (they often have webinars just for us health teachers!), SHAPE America (free to members…you ARE a member aren’t you?), and of course the Physedagogy video’s are available on YouTube for you to work your way through.
#6 Find a Mentor or Mentee – We all appreciate a supportive environment and pairing up with another educator to bounce ideas around and talk about challenges that you are facing or have faced is a great way to develop yourself. I strongly urge SHAPE America members to consider Mentor Match. Get paired up with another professional and develop together, at your own pace, in your own time.
#7 Subscribe to Newsletters – Click ‘subscribe’ to some of these great organizations, sit back and watch your inbox fill up with resources that can be used immediately or saved for another day. Many of these free subscriptions can be refined to reflect your needs, or stopped if they prove to be irrelevant. My favorites include the CDC , the OAH, ASHA, and the good people from ETR.
#8 Outsource Yourself – While the school’s around you might be out for the summer, it’s possible that some local organizations would love to have someone like you help them out. There’s bound to be volunteer opportunities for you to give back to the community. Additionally, don’t forget that for some teachers in other parts of the world it’s business as usual. Why not consider helping them out by skyping into their lesson? Check out how Adam Llevo did just this and taught a PE lesson in America….while being based in Saudi Arabia.
#9 Collaborate Online – Got an idea? A question? Consider starting the conversation on Twitter….or taking it deeper by engaging with other teachers on Voxer. Personally, I’m looking forward to collaborating with some educators on a conference proposal for #SHAPETampa plus, I’ll be leading the #slowchatbookclub discussions for Irresistible and Why We Sleep. Follow @slowchatbook on Twitter for more details.
#10 Extend Your PLN – When engaging in chats online, follow those that you engage with. If you are looking for health teachers to follow, here’s my list of over 150 active accounts that will keep the PD conversation going until we return back to school at the end of the summer.
Want to take this final tip further? Take a look at the work of Coffee EDU and then consider organizing your own meet up at a local coffee shop.
Whatever you decide to do this summer, I wish you all the best. Some of my PLN are retiring this year and I thank them for their service to the profession. Some of my PLN have secured new opportunities for next year – I’m excited for them and wish them nothing but success in their new venture. Thank you for your support of the slowchathealth blog site and all of the other side ventures that I’ve been involved with. Have a great summer!