9 Ways I’m Staying Sharp this Summer

9 Ways I’m Staying Sharp this Summer


For educators, summer is the ideal time to try to relax, re-energize, and do some professional learning that can be put to good use starting in the fall. As an administrator, if I want other educators in my district to be moving forward (and not just during the summer), I need to live by example and model the way.

Here are nine ways I’ll be bettering myself this summer.

3 Books I’m Reading

1. Hacking Leadership by Joe Sanfelippo (@Joesanfelippofc) and Tony Sinanis (@TonySinanis): For the last handful of years, Sanfelippo and Sinanis have been at the forefront of the district and school branding movement. In this book—the fifth book in the Hack Learning series—these two renowned educators explore ten specific ways our schools can always operate with the students at the center of our actions and decisions.

2. Launch by John Spencer (@spencerideas) and A.J. Juliani (@ajjuliani): Often times, teachers and administrators are left with overly abstract and complex resources regarding how to make the instructional shift to inquiry-based learning. This book is the exception as it cuts through the clutter, demystifies what design thinking is all about, and leaves readers inspired and proclaiming, “I can do this!”

3. The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros (@gcouros): While there are many resources that emphasize the importance of innovation, this book was written strictly for those doing the work in districts/schools. Couros provides readers with a passionate and strong call for change, and at the same time he includes practical tips, strategies, and discussion questions we can leverage in our educational settings.

3 Blogs I’m Reading

1. Finding Common Ground by Peter DeWitt (@PeterMDeWitt): If I’ve modeled my personal blogging after anyone, it has been DeWitt. This former elementary school principal-turned-consultant has a must-read blog on Education Week that will appeal to leaders, curriculum nerds, and anyone who is willing to work with others to move education forward. Also, he frequently allows for guest posts, which are always a pleasure to read.

2. Work in Progress by Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein): As a result of her endless work and dedication, Sackstein has become synonymous with the gradeless classroom. On her Education Week blog, this high school English teacher gives readers a glimpse into her classroom, discusses the trials and errors she has endured to arrive at her current beliefs and practices, and provides readers with a whole lot of inspiration!

3. The Schoenblog by Adam Schoenbart (@MrSchoenbart): You probably already know about Schoenbart due to his work on the EduCal, a calendar for upcoming education conferences. But, if that’s all you know him for, make sure to check out his blog, which features topics that include Genius Hour, redesigning learning spaces, Google Apps for Education tips, Star Wars humor and other delights.

3 Conferences I’m Attending

1. Model Schools Conference, June 26-29 in Orlando, Florida: This conference, which is the brainchild of Bill Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), doesn’t focus on “the stuff” (technology), but rather what “works” and what “doesn’t work” to undeniably move schools forward for the benefit of our students. A handful of years ago this conference entered my radar, and I’ve been wanting to experience it ever since.

2. NAESP (National Association of Elementary School Principals), July 6-8 in National Harbor, Maryland: This is the premiere conference for elementary school principals and anyone who does any form of work at the elementary level. My entire career has been spent working in elementary schools, and I’m excited to explore what leaders in this area from across the country have to offer.

3. Bucks-Lehigh eduSummit, August 9-10 in Center Valley, Pennsylvania: I have been attending this local conference for three years and running, and it’s always a pleasure to collaborate with educators from the area. At the same time, the event has also been known to attract many teachers and administrators from out of state. That being said, the call for proposals is still open and we’d love to have you facilitate a session!

Yes, summer is the season when most educators do the majority of their reading and attend their conferences. But, if we don’t plan ahead, and if we’re not intentional about making this learning happen, we could easily find ourselves back at school in the fall, having “forgotten” to better ourselves for the benefit of our students.

How are you bettering yourself this summer?

Ross Cooper (@RossCoops31) is the Supervisor of Instructional Practice K-12 in the Salisbury Township School District in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

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