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9 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Summer Professional Development

Summer is here! Time to kick back, relax, and not think about school or lesson plans until September!  


Any teacher knows that summer is the best time for professional development as well as catching up on sleep. There’s a plethora of conferences available for educators to attend throughout the summer. However, many conferences are located in far off cities and have expensive registration fees on top of hotel and transportation costs. If you’re looking for some more budget-friendly options, here are a few activities that you can complete a little closer to home. 

9 Professional Development Alternatives

Read books 

The beach is the best place to catch up on all the reading you can’t do during the school year. In between steamy romances or spine-chilling thrillers, make sure you’re cracking open some books that can help you grow as an educator. If you’re unsure what to read next check out a few of these lists:  

The City Teacher: Must-Read Books for Teachers in 2018 

12 Must-Read Books for Teachers to Hack Learning 

The Best Summer Books for Teachers (2018) 

(The last list has link for where you can purchase audiobook versions or try a free trial with Audible!) 

Watch documentaries 

If you’re more of a visual learner, curl up with some popcorn and watch one of the many documentaries available on various streaming sites. Psst…history buffs, you can find most of Ken Burns’ films, including The Civil War on Netflix!  

All the best documentaries on Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube 

The Best New Documentaries of 2018 That You Can Stream Online 

The 50 Best Documentaries on Netflix (Spring 2018) 

Participate in online discussions 

The Internet is a huge place, and there is an infinite amount of resources for educators out there if you’re willing to search for them. Take a dive into some online message boards where you can find discussions on everything from class pets to teaching ESL students. One of the sites even has a thread called “The Vent,” which may come in handy after a particularly difficult day.  

Find interesting accounts to follow on Twitter by searching through some of the more popular education hashtags as well. Many of the hashtags such as #edchat and #lrnchat even have scheduled weekly chats in which you can participate. And if you’re a new teacher, make sure you’re tracking the #ntchat hashtag! 

Organize or attend an Edcamp 

Edcamps are based on the idea that experienced educators can be some of the best professional development resources for their colleagues. Since 2010, there have been over 1500 Edcamps around the world in 35 countries. They are free to all participants, and you can even start your own event with the help of an “Edcamp-in-a-Box”! Learn more about the many programs offered by the Edcamp Foundation and find an event near you this summer.  

Revamp your lesson plans 

Throughout the school year, make note of what lesson plans worked and which ones maybe could use a little tweaking. Once summer rolls around, you’ll have the time and opportunity to look over these notes and adjust your strategy accordingly. If an assignment didn’t seem to communicate the subject to students as well as you thought it would, search for supplemental materials that can help drive the point home. Find opportunities for guest speakers or take students on a virtual tour of places too far away for field trips. 

Learn something new with an online course 

Sign up for an online course this summer with one of the many sites including Coursera, UDemy, Codecademy, and Class Central, which can offer free or cheaper alternatives to enrolling at your local college. If you want to explore a niche subject or even learn a new language, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started. PBS TeacherLine offers self-paced courses throughout the summer for PreK and Early Elementary Educators, and you can save 10% off the full-priced courses right now with the promo code “LEARNINGISSOCIAL”.  

Travel for free 

While many of the application deadlines for these programs have passed already, it’s never too early to start planning for next summer! Grab the opportunity to teach while traveling around the world. The National Education Association offers many travel grants to teachers each year. You could even spend the summer doing research at sea or participate in a short-term opportunity with the Peace Corps by teaching in a foreign country. Take advantage of all the options open to you and make sure you submit the forms in time for next year! 

Find seasonal positions 

If you’d also like to earn some extra income, apply for the many seasonal positions that open in the summer. Exercise your classroom management skills by working at a summer camp or developing one-to-one teaching techniques by tutoring. If you’re a writer, look into the many freelance opportunities available to help you sharpen your skills, or even work from home with as a data-entry or transcription freelancer. Live near a theme park? Look for summer positions there as well! 

Work with Insight 

Many of Insight’s partner school districts have ESY and Summer School positions still open. Continue to work and earn money all throughout the summer with us! Give Insight a call at (856) 406-6015 or email us at for more information. Even if we don’t have positions open in your local school district, we can still make sure you’re prepared to start as a substitute teacher or paraprofessional right away in September. 

No matter what your professional development goals are for the summer, make sure you do take some time to relax and refresh in preparation for the upcoming school year. Keep yourself healthy and start incorporating some good habits into your everyday routine. Spend time with your family and friends and most importantly, do something fun! After a long school year, you deserve it.