Many teachers around here don’t take summer off

One of the biggest misconceptions I hear often is that teachers have it made – they get their summers off.

From what I have witnessed, that is not true here in the Copper Country. We have many dedicated teachers in all of our local schools who continually want to become better and learn new ideas to enhance the education of their students.

During the first week of summer break, we had 27 teachers working 10-hour days building and learning to use 3-D printers through Project SMILE (Science, Math Integrating Literacy and Engineering). These teachers will now be able to bring this technology to the local schools and to their students.

Also during the same week, we had 20 different teachers working on improving reading instruction. The teachers had to model their teaching techniques working with volunteer students, while other teachers looked on and gave feedback. All of this took place right here at the ISD. It was very impressive to see so many teachers working so hard on what was supposed to be the first week of summer vacation.

It was not just teachers. Administrators also came in to learn about a new teacher evaluation system. Again, over 20 local administrators took a two-day course on the evaluation system and will spend much of their summer learning and using the online tool.

The professional development for teachers did not end after just one or two weeks. There were and are many, many opportunities for teachers to get more hands-on learning here at the ISD and at Michigan Tech.

Steve Kass, the ISD’s educational technology specialist, provided at least eight different classes for teachers, including “Exploring Google Drive,” “Google Classrooms and Sites,” “Chromebooks in the Classroom” and “21 Things for Students – Teacher Training.” In this last class, Kass helps teachers explore 21 “must-know” ways to use technology to help students learn.

Michigan Tech also provides professional development for local teachers, sometimes on their own, and sometimes partnering with the Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education and the ISD. There were at least eight different opportunities for teachers this summer. One of the unique opportunities for our teachers was a week on Isle Royale participating in a field experience in support of the ecological study of wolves and moose. This course integrated aspects of earth science, geography, anatomy and physiology, along with general ecology and mathematics. Classes offered through a partnership with the Western UP Center were “Teaching About Global Change Institute,” and “Engaging Students in Authentic Science Research Institute,” “Mi-STAR Middle School Curriculum Project, and PLACE, an Environmental Research Experience for teachers. Many local teachers participate in these summer classes.

Year after year, many of our local schools receive accolades from the state for their academic achievements. There is much that goes into receiving such recognition, from hard working students, to great parent support, and to the strong commitment from our local teachers, many of whom spend their summers enhancing their own knowledge so they can bring new ideas to back to their schools and students.

George Stockero Jr. is the superintendent of the Copper Country Intermediate School District.