Professional Learning
Professional Learning

Educators are the lead learners in schools. If they are to enable powerful, authentic, deep learning among their students, they need to live that kind of learning and professional culture themselves. When everyone is part of that experiential through-line, that’s when next generation learning thrives.

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Summer break is often viewed as a preparation or professional development opportunity. However, it’s just as important to rest the mind. Here’s how students and teachers can balance the two so they return to class rejuvenated and ready—and what districts should focus on in the meantime.

What Students Can Do during Summer Break

  • Use at-home digital tools for self-assessment. Understanding your level—and skill gaps—in reading, writing, math, or other key subjects—is essential for development.
  • Use an at-home digital tool for preparation. Pick a couple of subjects you really want to focus on for either “catch up” or to get ahead so you’ve got a jump on the school year.
  • Switch off and relax. The “all work, no play” maxim may seem cliché, but it’s true! Be sure to get out, have some fun with friends, and avoid burnout from over-study.

What Teachers Can Do during the Summer to Make the Next School Year Even Better

  • Get some rest. Schoolwork never stops for teachers, right? Yet, you deserve a break as much as everyone. Take time off and do what makes you happy.
  • Reflect on what happened last year. How can you improve? What could you add to your teaching to make it more interesting and effective?
  • Dedicate time each week to lesson prep before school starts. Use those reflections as an improvement guide as you prepare your classes.
  • Research digital tools. New digital tools can make teaching vastly easier (as well as vastly more engaging and effective for students). Explore what you can use in the classroom, or ones you can advocate for your school to use.

What Districts Can Focus on during Summer Break

  • Add new, cutting-edge technology to the education mix. By now, most districts likely already know what they’re implementing for the upcoming school year, but for the rest, it’s still not too late as long as you look for programs (such as Teach to One Roadmaps) that are easy to implement and use while delivering substantial improvement.
  • Keep teachers updated. Teachers will do best with changes to your school system if they know well in advance what’s coming and have the opportunity to learn new practices and methods to make the most of what you’ve planned.
  • Inform parents of planned changes. When you introduce initiatives to promote better, modern learning, sometimes parents struggle to understand and cope. Put in the time and effort to align parents with new learning methodologies so they become effective allies in their children’s growth and development.


40 Productive Things to Do During the School Holidays. Daniel Wong’s list of 40 productive things for students to do during holidays contains some surprises.

4 Ways to Take a Real Break This Summer. Edutopia outlines how teachers regularly turn downtime into a professional learning opportunity, but forget that unplugging from work has a lot of value.

What Summer Break Means: School Districts' Goals & Initiatives. A behind-the-scenes look at the key things schools typically focus on when the students are all on holiday.

Photo at top by S_C_Fotografia.

New Classrooms Team

New Classrooms Innovation Partners, a nonprofit organization, has been working for over a decade with middle schools to implement and iterate on a comprehensive middle school math program to effectively address the problem of learning loss. A cross-functional team of policy, academic, and curriculum experts contributes to the development and publication of its policy white papers.