Early on in my 20 year Navy career I got great advice from a veteran sailor. He said to remember to put something into your sea bag whenever you have a unique experience. If that experience was bad, remember how it happened so you won’t repeat it. If that experience was great, remember how it happened so you can replicate it or, at least, replicate the feeling you had when it occurred.

This Summer many (it should be most – don’t get me started) of the teachers I know are busy attending trainings and conferences.  Ones I wish I were attending include ISTE, PBL World, and NTAC. There are also many great professional developments hosted by school districts and regional education centers.  In Manor, for example, there are some great hands-on tech trainings and trainings in backward design.

So what is your plan for taking away great nuggets of information and using these nuggets in your own professional growth? Don’t have a plan? Then, other than great memories and, maybe, some great meals and networking, how will your teaching or leading change this coming school year?

Here are three ideas:

     1.  Use a recording device such as Livescribe, Notability or SoundNote. Then (the important step) listen to the recording and make notes on how these things will impact your classroom instruction.
     2.  Use twitter to tweet out important information using the appropriate hashtag. Then compile all of the tweets under that hashtag using something like Chirpstory or Hashtracking . Then (did I mention the important step?) make notes on how these things will impact your classroom instruction.
     3.  Write a blog post about the experience as soon as possible (same day) and explain how these things will impact your classroom instruction.

The common thread here is revisiting what you experienced and then reflecting on what you will use in your school and/or classroom.  It reminds me of what we tell our AVID students – you can have the best Cornell Notes, but if you don’t do the final step of reviewing them each night then what good are they?

I hope you are one of those teachers who is out there experiencing all of the incredible opportunities that there are in the education world. I hope you are doing this with some old friends and, maybe, meeting many new friends. And, I hope, what you experience is going to be transferred to your students or staff.

So what have I done this Summer that I want to share? Well, for starters, I was able to facilitate 3 PBL 101’s for in Columbia, MS, in Glen Rose TX, and in Milpitas CA. I learned that there are some hungry teachers out there who are ready to improve their teaching strategies. They want to try an inquiry approach to instruction.

And I learned how I want to approach my own teachers this coming school year. I know my teachers are good at what they do but I also know they can even be better and that we need to raise the expectations of what we want them to do in the classroom.  We don’t have to add anything new to what our teachers are doing. I need to help them plan better for PBL units; I need to spend more time in the classroom with them; and I need to model more lessons for them. Pretty simple really…

Gone are the days when teachers sat by the pool eating Bon Bons all summer long. Instead, those of us who are edumecated only sit by the pool for most of the summer. The rest of the time we’re filling our brains (and not just our mouths).

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