Going through a summer swoon? Turn to technology for a tune-up!

As is the case with most teachers, I have not given much thought to the upcoming school year. Okay, well perhaps a little thought – but not much! Teachers rarely have the time to decompress during the year, and despite what people think, we deserve every bit of summer break that we get. I have tried to make the most of this year’s vacation and began it on a great note with a trip to London in late-June. Of course, I found myself in Shakespeare heaven, with visits to Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe Theatre. I also was amazed by Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey – what a sight! However, my three friends and I found plenty of time to sample delicious cuisine, imbibe some tasty drinks, and watch Wimbledon (live and in person!) and the World Cup. Far from being an edu-vacational trip, London afforded me the chance to get away and to enjoy life post-teaching.

That said, I would be foolish if I said that I have ignored education completely during the summer. As an English teacher, I always am thinking about what I can do to make the subsequent year a more successful one than the previous one was. I don’t want to inundate myself with new material over the summer, so what’s the solution? Technology. Most teachers use technology to some extent in order to improve their lessons or to perform intense research for a given topic. While that works fine, how many of you use Twitter to catch up on educational ongoings? What about Zite or Flipboard to read articles about teaching and learning? Those apps (and many more) allow anyone with a computer, phone, or tablet to keep up with any topic, any time, any place. I have two Twitter accounts: one for my life outside of teaching, and one solely devoted to teaching and education. Having such an account really has come in handy; for example, because I follow Trevor Packer (the College Board AP supervisor), I was able to learn about the release of AP scores for my class. Zite – an app that allows uses to subscribe to various news sources – delivers fresh education news to me several times a day in an easy-to-read format. (Flipboard does the same.) Basically, teachers can stay engaged when it comes to education without being overwhelmed by technology.

Technology has become an increasingly vital part of teaching and learning over the past few years. Many schools (including mine) allow students to use laptops or tablets in the classroom, and teachers constantly deploy social media and other student-friendly technology pieces to make the lessons more engaging. While most of us need a tech break over the summer, we at least should turn to it to keep our saws sharpened – if for no other reason than to lessen the “shock” of returning to the classroom!

Having said that, don’t forget to give yourself time to enjoy the summer. Like I said before, we’ve earned it!

The two photos below: a Nutella milkshake, and a crispy bacon and spinach pancake crepe. I enjoyed both at My Old Dutch Pancake House (the Kensington location) in London. Delicious!