One of the most common misconceptions about teachers is that they take summers “off.” But for most educators, every summer is a time of learning new skills, earning required continuing education credits, taking workshops, revamping or developing new lesson plans, and pursuing advanced degrees – all in the name of becoming better, more effective classroom mangers and mentors for Idaho’s children.
Though their salaries are spread over 12 months, Idaho educators are only paid for the 180 or so days that they’re actually contracted for during the school year. But most educators stay busy during non-contract months to be sure they’re ready to serve Idaho’s children come August and September. We asked our Facebook friends how they spent their time away from the classroom this summer, and here’s what some of them said:
Virginia Jones spent a week with Quarknet learning about cosmic ray detectors and building one. “I will be taking the detector to school where my students will be collecting data and sharing it with students across the country,” she reports. “I also spent a week in Curacao on the JOIDES Resolution working to make data from the deep ocean drilling program available in lessons for teachers to use in the classroom.” (She's pictured here at left working with core samples on the Resolution.)
Melaine Pali-Wade taught summer school for four weeks, took a Mathematical Thinking for Instructors (MTI) class, and worked on her master’s degree. Margaret Castle took the MTI class, too.
Jolene Gunn took a class on 21st century schools and skills; built a web page; spent a week at an i-STEM conference on space exploration; and took a class on fractions, ratios, and decimals. “In addition to this, I spent numerous hours looking for new hands-on activities for science and math,” she reports.
Neva Gehring Noe spent a week at the “Never Again is Now” Human Rights in Education conference in Boise and worked on continuing-education credits. Like many other teachers, she went into school several times to meet with other teachers to align their curriculum to standards. She also reports “shopping the penny deals at Staples all summer to benefit the students that need pencils and paper as well as the art supplies we need and cannot get because there is no supply money.”
Alex Church took a class called TESLA (Teaching for Excellence in Science and Literacy Achievement) “that taught us how to effectively use science notebooks to improve student performance in writing and science. It directly related to my teaching and I am confident that it will improve my teaching and my students' learning.”
Araceli Gomez taught summer school, completed six credits for her master’s degree, “and went to the Idaho Humanities Council institute for teachers to learn about the Cold War for a week (definitely the highlight of my summer)!” MadBess Bonny took several classes toward her special education credential.
Bruce Twitchell spent six weeks teaching two Art Institute classes online. He also attended Yearbook Camp with three of his yearbook students and prepared for his 2011-2012 high-school classes as well as a photography class he’ll be teaching at North Idaho College.
Susan Leinweber Mahoney took two graduate classes at the University of Idaho, submitted an action research project proposal for her master's degree, and created her own teacher website. Jacklyn Price Alvarez hosted a trip to Puerto Rico for her Spanish students. Jackie Kerr Lofthouse says she spent the summer “writing lesson plans and creating interesting PowerPoint presentations to replace seriously outdated social studies books.”
Bekki Mangum taught summer school, took a week-long class from the Boise Art Museum, and wrote new lesson plans. Kimberly Sue Wallace attended a Best Practices conference, mentoring training, and taught summer school, “all the while, reading, thinking, and planning for the upcoming year!” As summer wound down, Jessica Lamb read The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher “to start my year off right!”
In addition to continuing work on her master’s degree, Michele Jacoby Chmielewski attended Teachers Institute in Contemporary Art at the Art Institute School in Chicago for the “Art and Technology” session. Lyna Kittelman “took two classes, made a bulletin board for the hallway, read an online book on math investigations, kept up with a teacher.net chat blog to see what fellow educators were doing.”
Several teachers – including Heidi Thornes Waisanen, Jenifer Egerer Franks, Jim Windisch, and Andrea Baerwald – attended i-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes at North Idaho College. Baerwald also reviewed science curriculum for the Idaho State Department of Education. Windisch reports that – among other activities – he built a trebuchet (see photo at right) that he'll use with his math classes and worked to find “exciting, hands-on science activities for my students.”
Kaywin Cottle participated in Idaho State University’s Total Instructional Alignment Conference with a focus on the new Common Core Standards Curriculum and wrote classroom curriculum maps based on the standards. She also reports making 20 puppets for her new classroom puppet theater and buying more than 100 books “at tag sales, Borders (sad, sad), and thrift stores” for her classroom library.
Erica Anderson, Julia Prager Withers, and Jeanie Robson-McCoy spent most of their “breaks” teaching summer school. Victoria Finney tutored a first grader-to-be and reports that it helped her sharpen her literacy teaching skills, too. Art teacher Cindy Chapman worked on her own art, noting, “I'm trying to develop some new and interesting watercolor lessons for my high school students, and make some samples of projects to inspire them.”
After spending her first week of “vacation” cleaning her classroom, Debrah Roundy attended a National Youth Leadership Training, acted as a resource on the University of California-Santa Cruz campus for Neuro-Linguistic Programming classes, and presented to an international group at UCSC on techniques for special-need students. Before school resumed, she met with parents and completed Individual Education Plan amendments and developmental therapy charts.
Teacher-librarian Susan Nickel attended the American Library Association conference and, like many other educators, did her share of professional reading over the summer. Janet Dennis taught a Northwest Nazarene University class for teachers and attended a training for “Restorative Justice” conferencing as a technique for reducing suspensions and expulsions and increasing responsibility and reintegration.
Madelaine Love studied the Common Core Standards for Senior Language Arts and read the literature that she will be teaching this year for regular senior English. Kari Overall read history books, went to a conference, and planned lessons. LeeAnn Benson Parker took three classes “to get ideas to make math and science more exciting.” Parker was also among about 50 Idahoans who attended the National Education Association's Representative Assembly in Chicago in July, noting that she “came away totally recharged and excited to know Idaho isn't alone in (its) education struggles.”
Peggy Shufeldt Hess attended a Best Practices workshop put on by the State Board of Education and a NASA class. “Both were great,” she reports. Laureen Metzler attended the “Making Middle Grades Work” conference in Wendell. She also packed up two classrooms and set them up in new locations for this fall.
Jacquelyn Jones spent three weeks in Peru, “improving my cultural understanding and spending time with family of my dual immersion kinder students. I learned lots of new dances to teach to my class, and hiked a few ruins including Machu Pichuu.” RaeAnne Jones Carson attended the Idaho Best Practices conference in Idaho Falls, along with taking classes and workshops on the reading and math core standards.
Jessica Schultz finished her master’s degree in science education, despite being laid off from her job. “I don’t have a job in education this coming year but I still finished my degree because I love education,” she says.
Sue Seeley Darden took a math class “to help improve my teaching even though I didn't need the credits. I also met with other math teachers to plan how to incorporate the new Common Core Standards into our math classes.”
Theresa Higginbotham Silvester attended the Total Instructional Alignment conference in Pocatello and took the last two classes for her master’s degree in American history and government. Emily McCoy Leffel attended an Advanced Placement conference in Fairfax, Virginia.
Calling all Idaho educators: Join us on Facebook to interact with your colleagues, share useful information, and even win prizes!