K-12

OPINION: Teachers at work in summer learning programs report these 5 benefits

Turning the dreaded seasonal slide into a win-win situation

It is no secret.

Study after study confirms that summer learning loss is a yearly phenomenon in our nation and that it keeps millions of children from reaching their full potentials.

The good news: Summer is an ideal time for students to gain skills, and it opens opportunities for renewal and growth for educators who serve in high-quality summer learning programs.

Related: Summer learning programs are too expensive for many of Mississippi’s kids

Here are five ways that summer learning programs empower educators:

1. Teachers gain new professional skills Summer programs, particularly those with evidence-based solutions, empower teachers to discover and hone new instructional methods to overcome common teaching challenges, and apply those lessons in the classroom during the regular school year. Teachers also benefit from having students in their fall classes from the summer program who are ahead rather than behind when school starts. This allows educators to spend less time re-teaching subject matter in the fall.

2. Instructional coaches have more time for feedback — Teachers serving in summer programs that evaluate and give constructive feedback can learn what they are doing well and what skills they need to improve. Working with specially trained instructional coaches can help educators reflect on and refine their craft for their students’ benefit.

3. There’s ample opportunity to build relationships with students — Summer programs give teachers a unique opportunity to bond with students they may teach in the fall. These relationships increase student comfort levels and can pave the way for students to learn more and perform better in the classroom. Summer program class sizes tend to be smaller, leading to greater opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and test-drive new instructional methods.

4. Educators gain fresh perspectives — Teaching students over the summer can lead to more dramatic results. There’s nothing like seeing a student blossom academically and socially to increase educator confidence and serve as a reminder of why they chose the profession. Educators learn innovative strategies, which can boost career satisfaction and make them key school ambassadors.

5. The chance to earn more money — Participating in summer programs can help teachers supplement their incomes while continuing to do something they love. Educators are underpaid and often feel underappreciated. Earning some extra funds over the summer can help change this. Educators are change catalysts who deserve to be supported!

Related: A New Orleans summer teaching fellowship is wooing young black teachers — but is it enough?

Simply put, participating in a summer learning program is time well spent that can help teachers jumpstart their careers or reconnect with the passion that first brought them to teaching. They can connect with students from their past, present and future while also improving their financial situations.

Instead of suffering their own version of summer learning loss, educators can be empowered through summer programs to become change agents who benefit their students, colleagues and school districts throughout the school year and beyond.

This story about summer learning loss was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for our newsletter.

Brenda McLaughlin is Chief Strategy Officer for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a national nonprofit that designs, delivers and measures evidence-based summer and after-school experiences for underserved youth.

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Brenda McLaughlin

Brenda McLaughlin is Chief Strategy Officer for BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), a national nonprofit that designs, delivers and measures evidence-based summer and after… See Archive

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