How teachers can avoid their own summer slide
- To give teachers some practical know-how on applying STEM skills to real world jobs, five teachers were invited to a two-week externship last summer at Terracon, an engineering firm in Oklahoma City, Okla.
- Teachers go back to their classrooms in the fall, and are able to help students see the connection to what they’re learning and future careers, wrote The Hechinger Report.
- The idea, launched by the state’s Teacher Shortage Task Force, was intended to spark teachers' enthusiasm for their own jobs and to retain them in the classroom. The program was so successful that 18 to 20 groups, including the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, will offer learning opportunities for teachers this year as well.
When teachers take advantage of summer fellowships and similar programs, they’re able to expand the curriculum for their own students. Educators bring their observations and newly learned skills back to the classroom, and are better able to link what students are taught to what they’ll encounter when they graduate.
Just as students need a fire lit under them to spark excitement in certain subjects, teachers too need opportunities to freshen their tool kit and enliven their teaching. Administrators could compile internships and summer fellowships for teachers throughout the year, just as high schools build portfolios of jobs and other summer experiences for students. Professional development credit or even small grants might be something a district could offer educators as well.
Reaching out to community organizations and businesses is one path districts could take. Formal experiences are another path, like the free Teachers at Sea program offered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, which puts educators on a two- to four-week cruise, to run short climate projects, and even study marine habitats. Students, after all, are not the only ones who can benefit from a little summer learning.
- The Hechinger Report Oklahoma externship pays teachers for hands-on experience in engineering and science