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A teacher’s summer: Leading professional development

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone, upon learning that I’m a teacher, says to me, “Oh, well at least you get summers off!”

If you have ever said this to a teacher or are thinking about saying this to a teacher, I strongly urge you to reconsider this choice.

Teachers work tirelessly over their ten-month contract periods lesson planning, unit writing, behavior managing, parent conferencing, home visiting, and professionally developing. The thing about professionally developing though is that it doesn’t end on the last day of school when the kids all race to the buses to kick off their summers.

In this series of posts, I’m excited to share with you the journeys of an educator engaging in a series of professionally-focused summer activities.

I will lead professional development, attend trainings, and learn with other educators from across the nation as I enter into the summer months.

Last spring I applied for the Kenan Fellowship through North Carolina State University. I was selected and partnered with the North Carolina Science Festival and Morehead Planetarium to write space and flight curriculum for libraries across the state to use during the Festival, and I also extended that curriculum into a biliteracy unit that was implemented in my classroom at my school. As a Kenan Fellow, I participated in a series of wonderful professional development sessions revolving around topics like leadership, advocacy, and innovative practices to utilize with my students.

This summer, though my fellowship is over, I had the grand opportunity to lead professional development for this new group of Fellows. I spent two days in Cullowhee, North Carolina at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching meeting new Fellows and learning about their projects.

I led two sessions: one about blogging and one about social media in the classroom. I helped teachers set up their blogs and Twitter accounts, shared resources with them, and gave them the opportunity to start practicing with these new online mediums before our sessions were over. We ran a Kenan Fellows EdCamp experience one night, which was an incredible evening of learning and sharing from not only presenters, but from present fellows. I did my best to field questions they had about various topics ranging from PBL to dealing with administration.

Despite all this general goodness, my favorite part of leading professional development was meeting and connecting with this new group of astounding educators and sharing my experience in the program from internship to implementation of my project.

I am immensely grateful to the Kenan Fellowship program for not only giving me the chance to learn and grow, but also for letting me share my knowledge to help others in their professional development.

Next up on my summer of neverending learning and travel (that has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?), I’m heading to Houston, Texas for what is essentially an academic version of teacher space camp. I will be at Johnson Space Center for a week collaborating with 54 educators from around the country and learning experientially about microgravity and the science behind NASA.

Allison Redden

Allison Redden (formerly Stewart) works as an education research analyst with RTI International’s Center for Education Services (CES). A former public school educator in the Triangle, Allison participated in several teacher leadership programs in North Carolina, including the Kenan Fellowship and the Education Policy Fellowship Program. She was the Public School Forum’s Beginning Teacher Leadership Network Coordinator for Wake County before moving to Tennessee to pursue her Master of Public Policy at Vanderbilt, specializing in K-12 Education Policy. She is interested in engaging in conversations and actions to advance equity, while navigating the intersections of education, economics, and policy. Redden is a proud product of North Carolina public schools, from Cabarrus County Schools to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.