Top 10 Tips for Summer School Success

Oct 23, 2023
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Summer school can present its own set of challenges unique from the typical school year. Shorter timelines, special student populations, and the limited time teachers have for preparation can cause stress for even the most seasoned professionals. At Edmentum, we’ve helped thousands of educators conquer the summer semester, and we want to share our tips for a successful summer school program. 

Take a look at the list we’ve compiled of our top 10 tips for summer school success:

1. Clearly define the roles of staff

Defined roles and expectations are key to your summer school program’s success. Be sure to equip teachers with the tools and instruction that they need to be successful during the summer’s limited timeframe. A well-prepared teaching staff is essential to make sure that students get the help they need while participating in the program. Professional development at both the teacher and admin level can be a great start.

2. Start with formative assessment

Many schools are shifting toward personalized learning models in classrooms. This proves to be equally important in a summer school setting where time is running short, and students are likely struggling in the traditional group-instruction-focused models many schools still utilize. Formative assessment helps give you a better grasp of where your students’ knowledge and skills are and helps make individualized instruction for a variety of students a lot easier. We wrote an article on five unique ways to formatively assess your class virtually and in-person.

3. Set a timeline with checkpoints and goals

What are the expectations of your teachers? Students? Parents? Having a plan to help keep these groups on track and aware of your expectations can be helpful to the success of your program. Consider outlining different goals for each group so that they can track their own progress and be reminded of what’s expected from them this summer.

4. Monitor data regularly

Once you’ve established checkpoints and goals for your teachers and students to follow, make sure to monitor them closely. Using data to your advantage can help guide instruction and help you develop a plan for students who are continuing to struggle (or students who are beginning to understand the material!)

5. Tailor teaching methods to your class

Determine which students are eligible for your summer school program, and base grading policies, attendance guidelines, and testing procedures around those who you’ll be helping this summer. Communicate these policies and procedures with parents, teachers, and students.

6. Create a communication plan

How will you communicate with teachers, students, and parents involved in summer school (email, phone calls, etc.)? How often will you communicate? Iron out these details before summer school starts so that you can be consistent throughout the duration of the program. Make sure that everyone knows how to reach you and where you will be contacting them so that everyone is on the same page from the get-go.

7. Consider the nontraditional summer school student

Just because it’s summer school doesn’t mean that students need to be confined to a classroom. Consider developing summer school programs or special field trip days where students can explore their interests through CTE, talk with a local mentor, or engage in a physical activity to blow off some steam. When students feel refreshed and fulfilled, they’re likely to do better in the classroom.

8. Try something new

Did you listen to a podcast about a new teaching strategy but never implemented it during the school year? Was there a fun lesson plan you saw online but ran out of time to prepare? Now is the time to try it! Use summer school as an opportunity to try a new activity or teaching style with your students as the guinea pigs—you may just find something that works well and that your students love!

9. Evaluate program successes and challenges

Start with the end in mind. What metrics will you need at the end of summer to evaluate the program’s success? Make sure that you have these metrics clearly laid out at the beginning of the summer so that you will be able to properly track and evaluate the success of your program. Check out our article, Six Strategies for Building Your Summer Acceleration and Enrichment Program to help you kick off the planning process.

10. Make it fun

Many students are less than thrilled to be spending their summer vacation in the classroom, so make sure to keep them excited and motivated throughout the program. Set goals, and celebrate when your students achieve them! Plan fun activities for students during the day or once per week to avoid burnout in the classroom. After all, it is still the summer break for your students.

Want to learn how Edmentum can help you prevent the summer learning slide and drive student success? View our summer planning and success toolkit.

This blog was originally published June 2018 and has been updated.

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