Summer school can present its own set of unique challenges. Shorter timelines, special student populations, and the limited time teachers have for preparation can cause stress for even the most experienced professionals. At Edmentum, we’ve supported thousands of educators conquer the summer break, and we want to share our tips for a successful and positive summer school program experience. Explore the list we’ve compiled of our top ten tips for summer school success.
1. Clearly define staff roles
Defined roles and expectations for staff are key to your summer school program’s success. Be sure to equip educators with the tools and instruction that they need to be successful during the summer timeframe. A well-prepared team of teaching staff is essential to ensure 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. Begin 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 limited, and students are likely to feel challenged 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 various students much easier.
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 educators 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. Develop a communication plan
How will you communicate with educators, students, and parents involved in summer school (email, phone calls, etc.)? How often will you communicate? Clarify these finer details before summer school starts so that you can be consistent throughout the duration of the program. Ensure that everyone knows how to reach you and where you will be contacting them so that everyone is on the same page from the start.
7. Consider the non-traditional summer school student
Just because it’s summer school doesn’t mean that students need to be confined to a classroom (virtual or otherwise). Consider developing summer school programs or special field trip days where students can explore their interests, talk with a mentor, or engage in physical activity to burn off some energy. 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 find something that works well and that your students enjoy.
9. Evaluate program successes and challenges
What metrics will you need at the end of the summer to evaluate the program’s success? Make sure that you have these metrics clearly defined at the beginning of the summer so that you’ll be able to track and evaluate the success of your program properly. Explore our blog 5 Strategies for Building Your 2021 Summer Acceleration and Enrichment Program to help you get started with the planning process.
10. Make it fun and enjoyable!
Many students may not be very eager to spend some of their summer vacation studying, 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!