The Holidays have arrived! For those in the northern hemisphere, it is a brief respite from work as winter sets in. For those in the southern hemisphere, long summer days at the beach beckon. In a globally connected world, it is becoming harder to talk about holidays without recognizing the seasonal differences across the world.

For educators, working with young children is draining and deep refreshment is needed to restore vitality and regain energy, particularly for those in difficult school environments. Downtime, family, food and travel feature strongly in holiday breaks. It is a time to recharge, sleep, go for long walks and seek out and read captivating books (and for those of us in Australia, eat cherries, nectarines, mangoes and watermelon). I’m currently sliding through Michael Tolkin’s darkly satirical novel NK3.

Some educators find the thought of professional development during holidays anathema. Others enjoy finding a quiet meditative moment to explore ideas that don’t fit into the daily life of work. Just as creative ideas tend to strike when we are in the shower or on a quiet walk, holidays can provide the brain space for teachers to think about tweaking lesson ideas and for school leaders to think about policies and programs that are hard to get to during school hours.

Reading

Most commonly, perhaps, using some holiday time to read one or two practice-related texts is a great option. I am enjoying reading the latest offerings from Project Zero, Edward Clapp’s Participatory Creativity (about creative classrooms), and learning about Shari Tishman’s focus on immersive attention in Slow Looking. Chris Emdin’s For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too provides a powerful antidote to top-down teaching and I have just ordered the recently released Flip the System UK. EdLeaders might be drawn to The Leader’s Guide to Coaching in Schools by John Campbell and Christian van Nieuwerburgh.

Online Learning

Many educators use social media to keep in touch with educational thinking, often via Twitter or LinkedIn. The #edchat hashtag is always a great place to jump in and you might like to flick back through last week’s #oecdglobalharvard chat on global competence.

For those who wish to develop their technology skills, there are a wide variety of courses on digital technologies. While you can experiment on your own, Microsoft Educator Community, Google for Education and Apple Distinguished Educators are worth exploring as well.

For those even more serious about their downtime PD, MOOCs and online courses provide plenty of food for thought. Some are free and some require a small fee. The University of London offers a six-week online course called What Future for Education? which helps you to critically examine your own ideas about education, teaching and learning. The University of Melbourne offers a six-week online course on Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills which is designed for teachers who are wondering how they can incorporate teaching and assessment of 21st century skills into their classrooms. Big Picture Learning Australia offers short online courses on Project-based Learning and Assessment by Exhibition. You can take an introductory course on design thinking with IDEO, the world’s top design firm. Or you can even take a short 3-hour mind-expanding online course on Understanding Exponentials with Singularity University, where you will learn about the exponential mindsets you need to be a leader of the future while becoming acquainted with a global network of innovators.

But for me, much as I love learning, the surf’s up and the beach is calling–and I’ll see you in January.

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