The Innovative Teacher: Summer (Not-Quite-A) Vacation

We’re excited to roll out a new feature on our blog: The Innovative Teacher. We are constantly in awe of the great ideas and sharing nature of teachers on social media, and wanted a space to pull together some of those great thoughts.

For the first installment, we asked you how you spent your summers—and as expected, we got all different responses. Many of you mentioned some kind of vacation, family time, or–in the words of one teacher–“the flexibility to sleep past 5:00 a.m.” But most of you are spending at least some of your “vacation” working. The great part about summer is that many of you are doing intensive, specialized training or teaching, things you wouldn’t have time to do during the year. 

And of course some vacation!  Photo via Julie Dupuis, Darwin Gilmore School
Photo via Julie Dupuis, Darwin Gilmore School

Your top three responses to how you’re spending your summer:

  1. Attending classes, school, conferences, and workshops
  2. Teaching
  3. Organizing/planning for the coming year

(And #4: Vacation, travel, and scheduling time to relax)

Check out some of our favorite summer plans:

As the school year progresses, I make sticky notes and put them in the June section of my calendar.  These are notes of things that need to be reorganized or re-planned for the next school year.

 -Leanne Hudleston, Brookhill Elementary

sarah glenn2

I am presenting at the National Ag in the Classroom Conference in Louisville, KY this summer. The presentation is how to incorporate agriculture into everyday curriculum. Arkansas Farm Bureau awarded us a grant to make the garden in the picture.  It is in the shape of the state of Arkansas with the six natural regions of the state sectioned out in natural stone.  Then we planted crops from each region in the appropriate areas of the garden.  My kiddos got to see cotton and soybeans grow.  They planted and harvested garden vegetables and learned all about pest control.

-Sarah Glenn

This summer I am traveling with two of my students to the International Thespian Society’s National Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska.  These two students qualified to compete at the national level and couldn’t be more excited! I’m also launching a new program called “Summer Shakespeare”.  Our town recently built a beautiful outdoor auditorium/stage and I want to make the best use out of it.  What better than to put together a Shakespeare play!

Jantina Russell, Bradshaw Mountain High School


I am doing an externship on the Biltmore Estate this summer. As a Foods and Nutrition teacher I am always looking for innovative ways to teach healthy eating and cooking. Working at Biltmore will enhance my ability to explain how chefs do certain tasks. I’ll be doing my own video with our Go Pro and sharing it with the students in the fall. 

-Jacqueline Brown, Asheville High School

This year I plan to visit Canada for the first time as a member of the American Association of Teachers of French 2015 Leadership Conference. I have always returned [from other travels] with so many authentic materials for my classroom. I love to travel! I am so thankful to teach in French for a Louisiana French Immersion School!

-Tia LeBrun, Henry Heights Elementary

canine commandos

I teach gifted for grades K-6.  These students will be our future leaders so I involve them in service learning.  We created a program 13 years ago called Canine Commandos where twenty schools rotate daily through three shelters to obedience train dogs. Teaching the students kindness and empathy will go a long way to help with the pet overpopulation. This is so important to me and the animals that I will gladly spend my summer to make a difference in the students and the animals.

-Virginia Hamilton, Indialantic Elementary School

I’m going to arrange my desks into 6 pods of 4 chairs each. My classroom will represent the world, and each pod will represent a continent (excluding Antarctica). Each seat will represent a country within that continent. The theme of the room will be “Travel Around the World.” Throughout the year, the pods will present current events from the viewpoint of the corresponding country or continent. I am so excited about the 2015-2016 school year!

-Diana Ailworth, Avon Park Middle School

This summer I plan to cross something off my bucket list…becoming Google certified!

-Kristina Holzweiss, Bay Shore Middle School


I will be spending the summer educating our teachers on how to use new Promeathean boards and integrate laptop computers into their classrooms.

-Janice Tucker, Beech Springs Intermediate School 

 Thank you to all the teachers who contributed their summer plans! Have a question you’d like to see in the next “Innovative Teacher?” E-mail Shelby, our Social Media Coordinator at [email protected]

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