By Melissa Rubin, Principal at The Student First
Normally, at around this time each year, I get excited about potential professional development opportunities - and I enjoy sharing them with you all. I love taking advantage of the “downtime” that summer provides to further develop my skills so that I can find new ways to better support my students. Usually I jump at the chance to do webinars, or even week-long conferences, especially if the setting is nice (like the Cape or VT). The key word here though is “usually”. And we can all agree that this year has been anything but.
The month of May is always a big push - the students are tired, we’re tired and there is a lot of work to get done before the end of the school year. But this May? Good gosh! All I kept saying was “the struggle is REAL”. And it was!!!
So, as I think about how I want to spend the next couple of months, the idea of PD is not at the forefront of my mind. I feel conflicted though because I don’t want to lose out on this opportunity of time to learn. As a compromise, here is how I am going to approach the next few weeks…
First and foremost, it’s time for some self-care. A social worker once shared a great philosophy that I need to internalize more - “self-care is not selfish”. I need to allow myself to recover and replenish my own energy so that I can be ready to help the kids come September. In keeping with this, I will be participating in NEALS’ Wellness Workshop on June 29th, entitled Self-Care for You.
Finally, I am behind on my YA reading. Usually (there’s that word again), I can get through a few books that my students are assigned during the school year… that definitely did not happen this year. So, why not take advantage of this time to catch up on reading?! I love doing it, I can do it anywhere (especially in the sun!), and it would benefit my students as I could then better help them with reading comprehension, and even analytical writing if I’ve actually read the text. So, I am going to read this summer! A lot! Given that I work with a number of middle and high school students these days - all of them reluctant readers, I’m going to focus on finding appealing titles for them, and making sure they read and understand them.
I started this week, and I’ve already read 3! And it was so much fun! I’ve been behind on my graphic novels so I wanted to address this gap in knowledge first. I was finally able to read Class Act, by Jerry Craft, the sequel to New Kid, and loved it - maybe even more than New Kid. The way Craft addresses microaggressions, colorism, and socio-economic differences in a private middle school setting is truly genius. Everyone - young and old - should read both these books and talk about them. As a side note, one of my AP lang students was asked to compare New Kid to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me - what an awesome assignment! It’s amazing how two, seemingly disparate books can address the same themes - and talking about which style is most effective, was a great conversation.
I also read Terri Libenson’s first two books, Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy. Again, I really enjoyed them - in large part because of the quirky and realistic characters Libenson develops. I can imagine a number of my students relating to these characters. Great for middle school girls in particular.
Now I need to transition to rereading The Handmaid’s Tale (a summer reading assignment for a few of my students). I’m curious now that I’ve caught up on the Hulu series whether my perspective/reading of the book will change.
I wonder, what are you planning this summer? Any books high on your priority list to read? Any interest in getting together to talk about books?