Making the Most of Teaching Summer School

Mar 18, 2024
Teaching summer school Edmentum article

Teaching summer school and attending summer school both have a particular stigma that can make it a source of dread for everyone involved.

And although the length of summer school continues to decrease with budgetary pressures (some states only mandate 60 clock hours per course, slightly less than two weeks depending on the length of the school day), it has been proven a valuable resource.

Still, everyone in the room would probably rather be at the beach.

So, here are some ways to squeeze the most out of those two weeks.

Accentuate the Positive While Teaching Summer School

That summer school stigma desensitizes many teachers who opt for summer duty. They automatically might think the worst of the students who find themselves participating.

The truth is that if these students weren’t invested in their education, they wouldn’t be there in the first place.

Kids who don’t want to succeed wouldn’t take the time.

If you don’t typically work with the students in your summer school class, now is the time to broaden your horizons. Get to know them. Find out what makes them tick. That effort will make the summer a much more valuable experience for both them and you.

Check out these tips on building classroom community to get started.

Get to Know Your Students

With struggling students (who make up the majority of the “clients” for summer school), content often has to be framed in order to get them to buy in, meaning that they often need to know what’s in it for them (other than the recovered credit, obviously).

Place an emphasis on how this information will help them in next year’s classes. Talk to the students about summer brain drain and how they will be more prepared to hit the ground running come August.

Framing the time spent as beneficial in the long run might get them to try a little harder. Here are some ideas for how to emphasize how the information learned during summer school will benefit students in the future:

  • Real-world Applications: Connect the concepts and skills taught in summer school to real-world scenarios and future academic pursuits. Highlight how mastering foundational knowledge in subjects like math, reading, or science will not only support their success in upcoming classes but also prepare them for real-life challenges and opportunities.
  • Transition Support: Address specific areas where students may encounter difficulties during grade transitions or changes in curriculum. Provide resources, strategies, and study tips to help students navigate these transitions with confidence and ease. Encourage students to identify potential areas of concern and proactively seek assistance when needed.
  • Skills Reinforcement: Emphasize the importance of ongoing practice and reinforcement of academic skills throughout the summer months. Encourage students to engage in regular review and practice activities to prevent summer learning loss and maintain academic progress. Provide recommendations for online resources, practice exercises, or interactive learning platforms that students can use independently.
  • Setting Academic Goals: Guide students in setting academic goals for the summer and beyond. Encourage them to identify specific objectives, such as improving math fluency, expanding vocabulary, or mastering key concepts in a particular subject. Help students break down their goals into manageable tasks and develop action plans to achieve them effectively.

Incorporate Technology

Integrating technology into summer school programs offers endless possibilities for enhancing learning experiences, engaging students, and fostering academic growth. Consider using platforms like Google Classroom, Edmodo, or Schoology to create interactive lessons, share resources, and track student progress. You can also use digital quizzes and assessments to gauge student understanding. Platforms like Kahoot! or Quizizz make learning fun and competitive.

Remember that technology should complement, not replace, effective teaching practices. Provide clear guidelines for responsible technology use, address digital citizenship, and ensure equitable access for all students.

Focus on Preparation for Next Year

These might not be your kids. You might not even teach the courses being offered during summer school. That doesn’t mean you can’t use this brief time of teaching summer school to expand your teaching practice for next year.

Summer school classes often feature smaller class sizes, making differentiation and individualized instruction strategies that aren’t possible during the school year more accessible.

With more practice, maybe they can be used during the school year. Do some experimenting with blended learning as well since many summer school programs now have significant online components.

Have Fun

Yes, no one wants to be there. Yes, you only have two weeks teaching summer school in which to fit a lot of material. That doesn’t mean that the room can’t be fun or that you forget the engagement strategies you use during the traditional school year.

Make some jokes (and laugh at theirs). Take the time to celebrate successes and accomplishments.

It’s possible that you are the first teacher who bothers to be positive with them—perhaps even turning the tide in their educational careers.

Looking for more ways to get the most out of teaching summer school? Check out five tips for maximum class-time efficiency.

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