20 Ways to Personalize Your Learning This Summer
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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We educators need to rest and recover this summer. So many of us are exhausted. But the reality is also that we’re going to have to prepare for a fall that – whatever it looks like – will include an online learning component. Even if we go back to face-to-face learning, we will all have to be prepared to teach online, and the best way to do this is to first educate ourselves with research and pedagogy.
Learning online will also help us become better teachers and now is the perfect time to take an online course. So, in this blog post, I’m going to share 20 teaching areas that are relevant to distance learning and why these topics might be one you choose to take a professional development course to learn this summer.
This is sponsored by Advancement Courses. Use the code COOL20 to receive 20% off your course from Advancement Courses. All opinions are my own.
1. Blended Learning
In my opinion, the best 21st-century classrooms are “bricks” and “clicks,” blending together the best of face-to-face and online. Blended learning is not new.
Research around the pedagogy of effective blended learning will help you understand how to effectively combine your physical classroom and your online classroom. So, in order to prepare for the inevitable blended learning for this fall, the first professional development goal for all of us should be to make sure we have mastered blended learning.
2. Racial Sensitivity and Culturally Responsive Teaching
As teachers, we have a lot to learn to improve our world toward better acceptance and equitable inclusion in society. This needs to be an area of understanding for every teacher. Some of you may use your professional development this summer to focus on culturally responsive teaching.
3. Student Engagement
I’m in social media groups where frustrated teachers recently commented that their grade books looked like “Swiss Cheese” and that many students were just missing during online learning sessions. While the stress of the pandemic, lack of reliable Internet access, and a thousand understandable reasons could be part of students not showing up, students weren’t motivated to want to attend.
So, this summer many of us teachers are looking to understand what it takes to create engaging, exciting lesson plans. If this is your goal, this course may be for you.
4. Student Anxiety
Anxiety is an issue for both students and teachers during the pandemic. As teachers, often we have to know and help students understand coping mechanisms for the anxiety in their lives. This course can help us understand these principles and how to create a safe space for our students to learn.
5. Teacher Self-Care and Balance
Teacher satisfaction is a challenge. Certainly, appreciation from administrators, job fulfillment and so many other things are part of that. However, we know we have to care for ourselves so we can care for others. Self-care is key so that you can be best equipped to care for yourself. The truth is if we don’t care for ourselves, who will? This course will help us understand how to focus on our own well-being.
Course: Becoming a Calm, Happy Teacher“The techniques will help you create more life balance so that you can cultivate more well-being for yourself and your classroom. The strategies will not only help you be more engaged, present, and fulfilled as a teacher, but you’ll also apply your learning to your classroom and your students.”
6. Trauma-Informed Teaching
Trauma-informed teaching has moved to everyone’s classroom and school, especially from the impact of COVID-19. As a recent podcast guest said recently, “we don’t have to know what someone’s problem is to know they have problems.”
In navigating today’s world, trauma-informed teaching is vital to our success as teachers. If you aren’t familiar with the current research and educational practices in this area, you might want to add this topic to your personal learning plan for the summer.
Course: Helping Students Overcome Trauma“In this course, you will explore the different types of trauma and how they affect students’ behavior and academic performance. You’ll learn how to identify conditions such as PTSD and how to help students through natural and healthy grieving processes. In addition, you’ll explore strategies for proactively coping with trauma, including creating student-led support groups and peer counseling programs, getting students involved with community outreach programs, and partnering with local and national organizations focused on processing trauma.”
7. Parent-Teacher Communication
Partnering with parents has always been important. Now that students are learning from home, building these solid relationships is even more important. Knowing the methods to communicate with parents is vital, especially now when many parents are involved in their child’s work on a daily basis through distance learning.
Now is a great time to look at the research and learn how to improve this vital partnership through effective communication that promotes parent engagement.
Course: Building Parent Engagement“By the end of this course, you will be equipped with a comprehensive set of tools for engaging and empowering all students’ parents to become active partners in their children’s school success.”
8. Classroom Technology
Just because we have technology tools doesn’t mean it is being used effectively or in a pedagogically-sound way. Standards have emerged to help us use technology in ways that improve learning and shape students in positive ways for future careers and knowledge they need to have to be successful.
As we move forward in our knowledge of classroom technology, we also need to learn how to align with ISTE (and possibly CCSS) standards.
9. Classroom Management
If you believe that you can improve your routines and workflow, then you might want to take a course on classroom management. Being able to empower students to be part of classroom procedures will help your classroom run more smoothly. This also includes addressing disruptive behavior. There are many ways you can start implementing preventative techniques to keep your class on track. Start learning strategies to help you take back control of your classroom.
Curbing Disruptive Behavior
“In this course, you will take a hard look at the effectiveness of your current classroom management plan and explore strategies for improving any weak spots. You’ll develop preventative techniques for stopping behavior issues before they start, such as establishing positive communication with your students’ families. In addition, you’ll create intervention strategies for when disruptive behavior does occur so that you can respond calmly and effectively to keep your class on track.”
“You’ll explore 21st-century research-based approaches to classroom management. Using these strategies, you’ll be able to create a classroom that enhances students’ emotional intelligence and academic achievement, boosts their confidence, and equips them with skills that will help them succeed in your class and beyond. You will build routines and expectations that empower students to choose positive behaviors and take ownership of their actions, thus cutting down on interruptions and power struggles while you are teaching.”
10. Teacher Collaboration
Building and being part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) is an important strategy for leveling up your teaching. You can create a community of learners in your school, your department, and through social media. This course will help you explore the benefits of partnering with other teachers to improve your own practice (and to take it further, you could get a cohort of teachers to work through this course and create your own PLC).
11. Differentiating Instruction
Differentiating instruction is a vital aspect of my teaching, but it starts as you design your lessons and class work. If you go into lesson planning with an understanding of differentiating instruction, your assignments can engage learners and meet a variety of their needs. This approach will take learning to a new level in your classroom.
If you have several ability levels and preferred methods of learning in your class and you’re wanting to reach all of them, this course may be the best option for your summer personal learning plan.
Course: Differentiated Instruction“In this course, you will master the skills necessary to effectively differentiate instruction for optimal achievement by all students. You will learn how to identify individual students’ needs and learning styles, and create activities and tiered lessons that will meet those needs. You will cultivate different strategies for grouping students, arranging your classroom, and using cognitive approaches that help students take ownership of their learning.”
12. Special Education
As we blend learning, we need to remember to include all of our learners! Perhaps one of the primary issues with distance learning has been concerns that students with special needs are not having their needs met. Teachers who work with students who have learning differences need to know how to reach those students.
Choose your coursework based upon your need to either support students or to help special needs students in an inclusive classroom.
“Using the techniques from this course, you’ll be equipped to select and implement technology into your curriculum for a wide variety of subjects in order to meet the needs of all students in your classroom.”
13. Physical Education
Physical education is one of many subject areas that have been impacted from moving online. While not often used in physical education activities, equipping our students with technology to measure, motivate, and improve student physical performance can help them learn to be healthy no matter where they are during the school day. If you’re a PE teacher looking for strategies to bring your class online, this course may be for you.
14. Play-Based Learning
Play can be incorporated into learning at any age. In my opinion, play is part of making, inventing, and spurring creativity. It can also create a more engaging classroom. There are many ways you can pair play with learning to help your students develop while still having fun. If play-based learning is part of your summer learning plan, check out this course.
15. Building Relationships
Effective relationships with our students is part of creating an effective learning environment. A strong teacher-student relationship is crucial for their self-esteem and academic achievement. However, building a positive relationship with students is not as easy for some teachers as others. If this isn’t something that comes natural for you, these courses can help (including one for free).
16. Flipped Classroom
The flipped classroom allows students to learn from pre-recorded videos and then to complete homework and other activities during class. With video instruction on the rise, flipped classroom techniques can help any teacher. You could take a course on flipping your general classroom or one specific to your area of focus, including art, music, and physical education.
“In this course, you will examine different flipped learning models and select one that works for your students’ diverse interests and needs. Next, you will develop strategies for overcoming the potential challenges of switching to this model, and also set up a learning management system to help you streamline your course content. Finally, you will plan differentiated learning activities and assessments that will help your students master the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.”
“In this course for art, music, PE, health, and other special area teachers, you’ll learn best practices for flipping your classroom in a way that’s tailored to your subject area. You’ll explore different media you can use to engage your students, and create lesson plans that will challenge them to think at a higher level. In addition, you’ll discover how to make your lessons differentiated and inclusive, to ensure equitable outcomes for students regardless of learning style or access to technology at home.”
17. Digital Assessments
How can we effectively assess learning in a digital classroom? This is the question of many educators who have been thrust into online teaching. Digital assessments aren’t new, but it’s important to have a knowledge of best practices in place.
As schools work to make digital assessments more effective, now is a great time to learn about how to create and plan your own for the fall. Whether you’re looking for a simple way to get started or want to deep dive into designing your own online assessments, these courses are great options to evaluate your online classrooms.
Course: Jumpstarting Online Assessments“In this course, you’ll examine how to effectively map out, design, and leverage a range of assessment types to maximize student learning over the course of a unit. Using educational technology tools, you can develop authentic formative and summative assessments, while tracking students’ progress to inform future instruction. Additionally, you’ll gain strategies for offering timely, meaningful feedback that fits the format and medium you’re working in. Finally, you’ll learn how to design online assessments that follow the best practices of accessibility to provide an equitable experience for all learners.”
18. Project-Based Learning
Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a topic we often discuss on my podcast. Some educators think a project is what you do at the end of a course with students just for fun. However, meaningful PBL lets you teach students throughout their work on a project. Learn how to level up with the Gold Standard methods for creating PBL in your classroom.
19. Game-Based Learning
Game-Based Learning (GBL) isn’t only about having an activity based on points. Many learning theories are associated with effective gaming and teachers are applying these principles to their classrooms to engage learners. There are even game badges you can add to Google Classroom. Learn about GBL and bring it to your blended classroom.
20. Social Media
Social media can be used to safely engage learners. Many of us (including myself) have been using social media effectively with our students for more than a decade. While some schools restrict this practice, as schools have moved online, the necessity of engaging students where they are has come to the forefront. Learn how to use social media in your classroom to be a more effective teacher. This course will show you how.
Online Learning with Advancement Courses
In conclusion, we all need to have personal learning plans this summer as we work to level up our learning. Advancement Courses is a great way to do that. Remember to use the code COOL20 to receive 20% off their professional development courses as you take your teaching and your student learning to the next level in ways that are unique to the time in which we live now.
Disclosure: When a blog post is marked as a “sponsored post,” it means that the company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”