Five Things That Will Derail Your Summer School Program

Mar 27, 2024
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Summer sessions come with their own set of challenges, such as shorter timelines, special student populations, and the limited time teachers have for preparation. With the stakes being so high for students enrolled in summer learning, how can educators make the most of the short time they have with students, and set them up for summer success?

Sometimes knowing what pitfalls to avoid for can be just as important as knowing best practices. Here are a few things to watch out for in your summer school program:

1. Not Adhering to Summer School Timelines

Setting and sticking to a clear timeline is crucial for the success of any summer school program. With the condensed schedule, there's no room for delays or deviations. Ensure that you have a well-defined plan in place from the start and communicate it effectively to both staff and students. Implement strategies to keep everyone accountable and on track, such as regular progress check-ins, milestone deadlines, and efficient use of class time. By adhering to the established timeline, you'll maximize instructional hours and optimize the learning experience for students. To make sure your students have the best shot at success during summer session, follow these five tips to keep them on track.

2. Students Assuming Summer Courses Are Easier

Before students start summer school, make sure you set the expectation that this will not be an “easier” version of the courses that take place during the normal school year. Point out that due to the shortened timeframe, summer courses can be more demanding. Adjusting to summer classes at the end of the school year can be a little tricky, so check out these tips to help make the transition smoother for your students.

3. Students Failing to Check In Daily With Teachers

In the condensed timeframe of summer school, daily check-ins with teachers are crucial for student success. Without regular communication and support, students can quickly fall behind, making it challenging to catch up. As educators, it's essential to establish a routine of check-ins with students to monitor their progress, address any concerns or questions they may have, and provide timely feedback on their work. Consider utilizing a variety of communication channels, including virtual meetings, emails, or even phone calls for students who may not have reliable internet access. Encourage students to reach out proactively if they encounter difficulties or need clarification on assignments.

Establishing a sense of accountability through these check-ins can also help students stay motivated and focused on their academic goals. Knowing that their teachers are invested in their progress and available to assist them can instill a sense of responsibility and ownership in students, encouraging them to stay on track and actively participate in their learning journey. Just because the session may be shorter doesn't mean that building good relationships with students matters less.

4. Students Not Being Fully Committed to Summer Learning

Make sure students understand their involvement with summer school and why it is important. Without buy-in from students, it can be challenging to maintain their engagement and motivation throughout the summer session. Educators must clearly communicate the importance of summer learning and help students understand how it aligns with their academic goals. Is it to catch up, get ahead, or graduate on time? Get them excited about the goal, and you will find it easier to get them to commit to summer school. Looking for tips on sparking student motivation? Here are six strategies you can put to work in your classroom.

5. Insufficient Planning and Training

This is no surprise, but if you do not prepare properly and have appropriate training, you will be in for a long few months. High-quality, engaging summer school programs can go a long way in preventing learning loss and can even accelerate student achievement and performance. 

One key aspect of effective planning is curriculum development. Educators should carefully select and design instructional materials that are aligned with the learning objectives of the summer program and tailored to meet the needs of students. This may involve adapting existing curriculum resources or creating new materials that address specific areas of weakness or target skill development. As you plan, be sure to incorporate these five best practices for an effective summer program.

Want more summer school tips? Augment your in-person (and virtual) summer school plans with helpful resources, blogs, and worksheets aligned to your specific summer goals. Explore Edmentum's Summer Planning & Success Toolkit.

This post was originally published April 2014 and has been updated.

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