Teaching Tuesday: Advocating for the Education Profession During the Summer

By Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick, Tracy Vasquez, Jena Akard, Katy Long, and Dr. Shawna Martino

instructor teaching a lesson from home on a laptop

With the school year winding down, it is an opportune time to reflect on experiences that pre-service and practicing teachers can embark on to grow and develop professionally. Here are some of the best practices and strategies for professional development during the summer, as well as ways to advocate for and elevate the profession, according to education professors.

Reset and Refresh

While many people think that summer for educators is a time to vacation and lay low, Professor Jena Akard views it as a time to renew one’s knowledge and refresh cognitively, physically and emotionally. Summer is a time to continue learning and interacting with peers. This means taking the time to read articles and research and attend to your professional development. Professional development keeps you up to date on what is happening in the profession from a macro (education in general) to micro (teaching children birth to third grade) level.

It is renewing to devote this time that the busy school year does not always allow. The professional development opportunities can become catalysts for deepening and expanding your network, which in turn supports the students’ learning in the fall. Your network could yield:

  • A relationship that can support a specific topic in the syllabus through an interview
  • New content added to the syllabus
  • Conversation starters to connect with another colleague
  • Likeminded people with whom you can partner to remedy a need

In this way, elevating and advocating for the education profession during the summer months can energize you for the school year ahead.

– Jena Akard, Assistant Professor

Enrich Yourself

Another way to advocate for the teaching profession is to become a better teacher. Professor Katy Long states that summertime is an optimal time to learn and grow in your teaching practice. Continuing to learn and grow as a teacher no matter the number of years you have been teaching elevates the profession by helping to ensure a high-quality education for all students. If you haven't already, be sure to join professional organizations that offer teaching resources and opportunities to attend and/or present at conferences. Professional organizations are one of the best ways to stay current with the most effective teaching practices aligned to academic standards. Additionally, by becoming a member, you are making your voice heard as those organizations advocate for and promote the importance of education and teachers. Many professional organizations offer free memberships and free virtual trainings. Make this summer one of advocacy and growth!

– Katy Long, Assistant Professor

Get Involved

If you are a pre-service teacher, summer is an ideal time to explore different educational clubs. For example, Educators Rising prepares pre-service teachers to become effective educators through professional development, service learning and leadership development. The focus for the summer will be to connect with members through social media platforms. The faculty advisors, also known as teacher leaders, are determined to uplift the pre-service teachers with words of encouragement and ideas from the classroom, in addition to providing them with an outlet to share their experiences in relation to being an educator. Furthermore, they plan to elevate them as teachers by stimulating conversations using hot button questions and articles from the top peer-reviewed education journals. Finally, they will promote opportunities for professional development and leadership this summer by linking them with Educators Rising’s “Beginning to Teach” micro-credential to demonstrate their competencies, showcase their skills and boost their future resumes.

– Dr. Shawna Martino, Online Full-time Faculty

Summer is a time for all educators, including our future educators, to reflect and grow as they prepare for the next season. If you want to get more involved in elevating and advocating for one of the most noble of all professions, teaching, use this time to invest in your own career and the lives of your students.

Want more? Check out all of the articles from Teaching Tuesday and return each week for a new post. To learn more about the College of Education and our degree programs, visit our website and join in our efforts to elevate the education profession. Prospective members of GCU’s Educators Rising Club can join the club on Instagram (@educatorsrisinggcu), as well the Educators Rising Collegiate website.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.