What Do I Do All Summer? Thanks for Asking!

Our superintendent, Mike Lubelfeld, recently wrote a blog post about this topic as it relates to his job.  Coincidentally, the same day I had read Mike’s post I was asked by two different people (a parent of a student and a personal friend of mine) what I did all summer with the teachers and students out of the school.

It’s a legitimate question as it would seem that there is nothing to do in a school without kids or staff!  Alas, there are plenty of things that keep me busy (I will admit that I do crank up my music while I work in the summer which is something I can’t do during the school year!). Here are some examples:

  • Build schedules – specials classes, SmartLab, before-school and after-school supervision, lunch/recess
  • Teacher evaluation lists and procedures
  • Finalize student class lists for the upcoming school year
  • Work with Buildings and Grounds department on physical plant updates
  • Prepare for opening August staff meetings including the roll-out of the action plan for the school year
  • Data review (MAP, PARCC, and local assessment data) – then prepare for RtI team meetings
  • Hire staff if necessary
  • Order materials after July 1 (when the new budget kicks in)

Speaking of reading, as of today, I have read five professional books, and I have started a sixth book. I have really enjoyed all five of these books, and I would highly recommend them to other educators.  My list, with a brief explanation is below.  In addition to reading these books in June and July, I have offered to purchase a book from this list to any staff member interested in reading between now and the start of school.  

  1. The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros – George spoke to our entire district staff last October, and then I saw him again at a conference this past June.  This book is written for those interested in understanding why innovation is necessary in schools.  He provides a great definition of innovation and he sets the foundation for creating an innovative culture in a school.
  2. The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon – Jon Gordon is one of the foremost experts on inspiring people to lead positive, forward-thinking lives, regardless of the curve balls life throws at us.  In this book, he provides a 10-step plan for overcoming common life and work obstacles.  There is a student version and program as well, which I will be learning more about this later in the summer.  The book is written from a business perspective, but Gordon folds in a lot of school-applicable material.
  3.  Teach Like a Champion 2.0 by Doug Lemov – I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to create powerful learning environments that will help all students make dramatic progress over the course of a school year.  Lemov provides 62 detailed teaching techniques that are proven to be successful in classrooms.  There are videos of lessons included with the book!
  4.  Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz – Paul is an elementary teacher in Palatine, Illinois who has been recognized as one of the best in the country.  In this book he shares methods you can use to create a successful student-led classroom.  It has tons of practical examples that are innovative, engaging, and empowering for students and teachers.  These activities are fully aligned with the Danielson model of excellent teaching.
  5. Empower by John Spencer and A.J. Juliana – This book provides educators with a roadmap that will inspire innovation, authentic learning experiences, and practical ways to empower students to improve their passions while in school. It is written in a different style than other professional books, which makes it an interesting read.
  6. The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon.  I just started reading this one based on seeing and listening to Gordon speak over the summer. Our work as educators is often difficult, and I am the first to admit that it sometimes taxes our spirit.  The promise of this book, which is to leaders stay positive when facing numerous obstacles, and tests on a daily basis, has piqued my interest.  

I hope you will take a closer look at some of these books.  Feel free to comment with other great summer professional books to read.


3 thoughts on “What Do I Do All Summer? Thanks for Asking!

  1. Dave that sounds like a lot of activity for summer holidays. Might I add three things to the list:
    – while being a principal is really rewarding it’s also taxing on our energy tanks so some time to charge these tanks by following some of your non working passions, of course it includes late night dinner parties and long sleep ins as well.
    – reading list that include non fiction or an autobiography or travel books
    – extra time with family and friends you don’t get to see so often during the term.

    The longer I got to serve as a principal (over 20 years) the more I valued this battery recharge and the less I felt I had to justify or explain myself.

    I like reading your posts and wish you many more happy years ahead in the profession.

  2. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for the insightful comments. I wholeheartedly agree that we principals (all educators, really), need to recharge our batteries. Although this blog posts makes it look like all I have been doing is working this summer, that is not really true. I wanted to answer the question I am asked all the time – what do I do at work in the summer when everyone is gone. However, rest assured that I have taken time for myself and family this summer as well. I have been running and riding my bike much more than I can do during the school year (I also have been eating a lot more, thus the need for the added exercise!). We also have taken some nice day trips such as Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we saw lots of great bands, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (they were amazing!). Plus, living in the Chicago area provides us with many places and neighborhoods to explore which we have done. I also have been reading some fiction – I read, and highly recommend, the young adolescent book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and I am now reading the new thriller by Daniel Silva called House of Spies. Finally, I have been learning something new to enrich my life outside of school, but I am saving that topic for another blog post.
    Take care,

  3. Pingback: Weekly Education Links (weekly) | A Principal's Life

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s