Summer Learning

Empowering Teachers to Transform Learning Recovery

 //  May 10, 2021

Empowering Teachers to Transform Learning Recovery

Dr. Lauren Sanchez Gilbert is Chief Executive Officer at BellXcel, a national nonprofit that offers evidence-based products and services for youth organizations and schools. Below, she shares five tips to make this summer count for all teachers.

We have a unique opportunity to transform how we think about learning recovery. As a former assistant school superintendent, special education teacher, and director of youth programming for a community organization, I recognize that instincts may be to buckle down in rigor as we strive to recover from the impact of the pandemic. However, we need to think differently because quite simply, nothing will be the same.

Our teachers have the power to unlock the potential of our students in the years to come—our job is to empower them with the resources, support, and freedom to do so.

This summer, more than ever before, teachers need opportunities to unleash their creativity, renew their passion for teaching, and explore and experiment with ways to engage students differently.

Summer as a time for teacher professional development is not a new concept. Summer can provide a lower-pressure environment for teachers to further develop as educators and even experiment with new classroom strategies. Yet, according to a first-ever national survey of teachers’ summer professional learning highlighted in a recent RAND Corporation study, opportunities inclusive of developmental feedback were uncommon. While summer 2021 is still being shaped, we know that this time is optimal to provide teachers with freedom to try new approaches, receive coaching, and gain confidence and inspiration as they prepare for the next school year.

BellXcel partners with schools and youth development organizations to provide high-quality summer and afterschool learning experiences rooted in evidence for K–8 youth. We’ve learned firsthand how powerful summer can be for teachers.

“This has been an unforgettable experience! As I have had the opportunity to coach this summer, I have also been able to reflect on my own classroom practices and have picked up on some new ideas I cannot wait to implement.” Teacher, BellXcel-powered program partner

Our partners are gearing up to launch impactful programs this summer across the country. Each program and location is unique; yet their desire to empower their teachers with the tools, resources, and support to effectively reach the students in their communities unifies their purpose.

As you prepare for your summer program, consider these five ways to make this summer count for your teachers.

  1. Start planning now. As a recent RAND commentary stated, “Planning is the precondition for a quality summer program.” Program design and management are just as important as your curriculum to ensure a high-quality, successful summer program.
  2. Ensure creativity thrives. Summer is the perfect time for teachers to freely use the curriculum as a starting point while exploring new ways to engage students differently. They can experiment, practice, and improve their student-centered classroom practices including social and emotional learning and positive behavior management.
  3. Create a culture of positivity and inclusivity. Create a positive and supportive environment where all of your teachers feel safe and gain confidence to develop new skills, and receive coaching and instruction along the way.
  4. Encourage sharing of experiences. Interaction with teachers from different schools, grades, and experience levels provides a rich opportunity for educators to learn from one another—and ultimately makes all of them stronger.
  5. Measure and share your outcomes. Seeing the results is invigorating, empowering, and more importantly reminds teachers of the difference they are making in the lives of their students.

Teaching is truly a perfect blend of art and science. This summer, let’s give our teachers the freedom to flourish and the support to flex their creativity. What emerges may just be the transformation we’ve been seeking, with our teachers leading us forward.

Photo courtesy of BellXcel