Summer is supposed to be a time for teachers to relax and enjoy a few weeks away from the stress and strain of school and students.
But the teachers I know work really hard, and while most of the world thinks they are so lucky to have summers off, I wonder how many teachers really do.
Not many that I know.
The best teachers, those who accepted the higher calling and desire to be better than most, spend their summer honing their craft and learning new skills.
Those are the teachers — and leaders — I expect to run into next week at the 2015 Model Schools Conference in Atlanta.
Starting Sunday, June 28 through Thursday, July 2, the education conference offers more than 100 sessions featuring the nation’s highest-performing schools, educational leaders, tools and resources to drive excellence and how-to strategies to improve student learning and engagement.
Each year since its inception in 1992, the International Center for Leadership in Education has identified the schools across the country and around the world that have made great strides in student learning.
Those schools are invited to share their successful strategies at the Model Schools Conference, the perfect place to collaborate with educators from around the world.
Few places in one venue offer so much pertinent information, quality hands-on training and engaging educational material and methods.
Representatives from a cross section of model elementary, middle and high schools present an array of approaches to delivering world-class education.
As education evolves and the technological advances add new elements daily in the classroom, it is imperative that teachers who want to stay abreast of the changes and ahead of the curve, take advantage of professional development training whenever and wherever it is offered.
In the ever-changing world of education, there is always a new curriculum to learn, new assessments and programs, new lessons, new methods, professional development and planning.
Whether you’re a neophyte or a seasoned pro in education, every teacher is really a student in training.
A jaded educator who thinks she or he knows all one needs to know is best suited for retirement or another career.
There is so much to learn and use in the classroom to improve schools and student learning, and the Model Schools Conference offers so many innovative methods and interactive tools for teachers and leaders to choose.
One thing is certain: The people who attend are expected to come away with a new perspective on their practice, a bigger bag of tricks and the motivation to continue teaching for years to come.
Beyond the speakers, the training, the interactive and innovative sessions, one of the greatest rewards of these conferences is meeting new people.
Teachers often work in the confines of their classroom, insulated from the support, encouragement and new ideas their colleagues can offer and share.
At the conference, teachers get to share their unique experiences and concerns with fellow teachers.
They get to pick the brain of experts and leaders. It is an incredible opportunity to share and learn about each other’s classroom practices and heartwarming student stories.
Great teachers help create great students. In fact, research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement.
That’s why it is critically important to pay close attention to how new and experienced educators are trained and supported.
It is so critical for educators to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other.
Ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources and so much more.
The best professional development is ongoing, experiential, collaborative and connected to and derived from working with students and understanding their culture.
Any opportunity to better understand student learning, curriculum materials and instruction, and subject-matter content can boost the performance of both teachers and students.
The teachers and leaders who will make the sacrifice to spend a few days of their summer vacation at the 23rd annual Model Schools Conference in Atlanta most likely believe what Nelson Mandela believed: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”