Time to think about summer PD – even in the winter!

One of the most powerful professional development experiences of my educational career was participating in the second Teach Vietnam Teachers Network summer conference in 2004.  Hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, the five day conference included presentations from authors and historians, interaction with peers from across the United States, and a once in a lifetime tour of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial by the founder of the Wall, Jan Scruggs.  The conference truly crystalized my personal and professional commitment to teaching about, honoring, and supporting military service in history and veterans’ issues today. From developing a curriculum for Milwaukee teachers to helping host a Teach Vietnam conference in Milwaukee to presenting “Teaching Vietnam in the Middle School Classroom” at NCSS to organizing fundraisers over the past decade to support local and national veterans, this one week of my life made all the difference.

Why do I bring this up, well over a decade past my attendance? (It was so long ago, there is very little online archived material about the conference!)  Simple – the Teach Vietnam Teachers Network conference was an example of the incredible, vast, diverse, and often unknown professional development offerings that are available for social studies teachers every summer. Social studies teachers love to travel, meet with others, dig into content and pedagogy, and chat with others. These institutes, conferences, and fellowships have grown in number, and each provides an amazing opportunity, to learn, grow, connect, and contribute to our ultimate goal of becoming better social studies educators that help young people become inspired citizens in our local, national, and global communities. Ask the awesome Rhonda Watton – she attends two or three each summer!

Many of the conferences are my favorite flavor – free – or offer grants and scholarships to defray the cost of attendance. It’s time for me to consider my summer plans, as these conferences have application deadlines and can fill up rather quickly. Anyone interested?

Here is a list of many of the conferences I know of or found through a simple (and not exhaustive) web search. I’m sure I missed a few – so hopefully more will share what they find on twitter!  I hope to attend one or two this summer. – and hope to meet even more awesome teachers from across the country. Whatever the experience, I know it will be rewarding professionally and personally, and only help me be a better social studies instructor.

NCSS has a list of Conferences and Workshops that will undoubtedly grow over the next few months, so keep checking for updates!

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