If teaching during the school year is like running a marathon, then summer school teaching is a sprint. With less time to cram in an abundant amount of material, it’s important for summer school teachers to be prepared and armed with tactics that help students get the most out of their few, short months together.
- Plan, plan, plan. It’s nearly impossible to fit an entire year’s worth of curriculum into one summer school class, so you’ll need to pick and choose your material wisely. Decide ahead of time which concepts and materials are most important so you don’t waste precious time. These classes move at a rapid pace, so it’s also helpful to be as organized as possible before the session begins.
- Set the tone and your expectations up front. Familiarize yourself with your school’s summer program handbook and policies, and come armed on the first day with an outline of course objectives, expectations, and consequences. Take a moment, also, to get to know each student. Ask them to fill out confidential questionnaires or write an introductory letter about themselves. This gives you an opportunity to learn more about each student’s personal situation and needs, as well as to assess their writing skills.
- Keep it simple, relevant, and interesting. Don’t overwhelm your students with more assignments than you can realistically manage. Instead, consider using participation or vibrant discussions as a significant portion of your students’ grades, paired with periodic writing assignments or projects.
- Get interactive. Whenever possible, get your students out of the classroom to interact with nature or your community. Local museums or public libraries are great choices, but if venturing off campus isn’t an option, simply take students outside for peaceful reading or journaling time. Also encourage interaction among students. Summer school is a great setting for the development of small, collaborative groups. Create writing, study, or research groups or pairs within the larger class.
- Keep parents in the loop. Building lasting, positive relationships with parents is a challenge in any classroom setting. However, the abbreviated setting of summer school, coupled with the fact that it occurs during a time traditionally considered to be a break, can make building these connections even more difficult.
However, good communication, persistence, and a positive outlook can go a long way toward helping you connect with parents. Click here for more tips on engaging the parents of your summer school students.