I can remember when I first started teaching and my non-educator friends would talk about how nice it must be to “have the summer off” from work. While the change of pace in the summer was nice, it was never completely time off from working. Like most teachers, I was spending time planning, preparing my classroom, and trying to figure out how to improve my instruction.
While my summers have always been busy, this summer is certainly unlike any other. The rhythm of life has changed for most people, and certainly for teachers. With the many questions surrounding what the return to school will look like this fall, our educators are working hard to ensure that they are prepared for whatever may come.
In an effort to support our teachers this summer, The Lutheran Schools Partnership (TLSP) has been hosting a variety of summer professional development. While we greatly missed being able to gather together in person with all of our teachers at the end of the school year to worship, learn, and enjoy each other’s company, we have been together virtually quite a bit. We are grateful for technology and the trainers who use it to share their expertise and help us learn.
Indiana requires a number of trainings for teachers. Some must be done only once, and some are done every year, two years, or three years. This summer, the majority of teachers and school staff members in our area were in need of training on how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect, as well as human trafficking. Trainers from Stop Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) and the Indiana Trafficking Victim Assistance Program have provided the required trainings for our teachers via Zoom this year, and we are grateful. The local perspective these trainers bring helps us to have a great awareness of the needs of our community and how we can help. Our teachers have each participated in three and a half hours of training on these topics.
With the advent of home-based remote learning this spring, some of our teachers identified digital tools they wanted to learn how to use, or how to use more effectively. Teachers and school staff were invited to participate in training on screencasting, using Google Docs to improve student writing, using Google Slides to create assignments, creating challenging assessments with Google Forms, and Grading with Google Classroom. While some of our teachers were already well-versed in using these tools, others had not yet had the opportunity to learn about them. Many of these trainings utilized the Google Suite of tools, which is one of the common tools used by our schools.
We also see a need for our teachers to feel supported and to be ready to support others. For that reason, later this month we will be hosting two more opportunities for our teachers. One is a free evening retreat by Run Hard, Rest Well, which aims to help teachers find rest that works. The other will be a two-session opportunity with Dr. Kim Marxhausen, in which teachers will learn more about identifying and supporting students dealing with anxiety, as well as using our teaching of the faith to support students’ social and emotional needs.
We may be experiencing a summer unlike any other for many reasons. As educators, this may not be the same vacation from thinking about school that we might hope for, but it will likely impact our teaching for years to come. Thank you, Lord, for teachers work hard all year long so that they can serve your children!