Professional Learning

Why Summer Is the Perfect Time for Professional Development

stack of PD books with sunglasses on top

Summer: the one word that can make any teacher smile.

As spring begins, the very idea of summer is filled with such promise. In my mind, I am already planning to spend time connecting with my kids, traveling, creating, exploring, or just doing nothing for a few minutes to allow myself to recharge after another busy school year.

But, I have a secret confession. Another pastime that I love to pencil into those long, warm summer days…

Summer can be the best time for professional growth and development.

stack of PD books with sunglasses on top

Why would I ever suggest such a thing?

It’s true; sometimes we need a break from education. But professional development in the summer is a completely different mindset than teaching because you get to be the student AND you get to choose the topic! No more forced professional development opportunities or lengthy staff meetings. Summer is your opportunity to dive into exceptional PD opportunities in which you are truly excited. Good PD is interesting, inspiring, and meaningful. It can help us recharge for the next year, and it doesn’t feel anything like work.

What is the formula for selecting good PD?

The first step is to identify topics to feed your soul.

  • What do I want to learn about?
  • What growth areas do I have?
  • What inspires me? 

Then, consider your professional goals.

  • Do I need credits to renew my licensure?
  • Is my goal to move up on the pay scale before fall?
  • Am I interested in learning something brand new, just for learning’s sake?

Now that you have a firm grasp of your goals, the trick is to seek out opportunities to satisfy both your soul and your goal.

AOEU’s Professional Development Offerings

At The Art of Education University, our mission is to grow amazing art teachers by providing rigorous, relevant, and engaging learning at every stage of their career. We do one thing, and we do it well: art education. We have a wide range of professional development to explore, and we just might have a PD opportunity to fit your needs this summer!

1. Graduate Level Courses

If your goal is to improve your practice and earn PD hours or grad credits toward license renewal, AOEU’s courses are your best option. AOEU currently offers eighteen different graduate-level courses, ranging in topics from Curriculum to Autism and everything in between. AOEU courses are prime PD for summer learning for two reasons: flexibility and fellowship. When you take an AOEU course, all the assignments and due dates are provided from day one. With a little planning, you can schedule fun summer activities and even vacations with ease, simply by working ahead! And AOEU’s course content is 100% online, making it easier than ever to learn and interact with faculty and colleagues from your iPad at the beach. Plus, summer is a busy time at AOEU. You’ll find classes chock-full of art ed professionals from across the globe, learning right alongside you and contributing to a robust learning experience.

courses landing page

See Full List of Courses


2. Studio Courses

If you want to make art and earn PD hours or grad credits to renew your license, take a studio course! You’ll get to create your own art while gaining valuable knowledge and skills for your classroom. Many of our students relish the opportunity to get back to their artistic roots and get their hands in the media while renewing their license or refreshing their lessons. Studio courses are spread over a two month period, providing a slightly slower pace, which is perfect for summer.

AOEU has several online studio courses which you should definitely check out. Here are two:

  1. Studio: Painting: Watercolor
  2. Studio: Sculpture


See Full List of Studio Courses


3. NOW Conference

If you want to grow your PLN and stay current with cutting-edge experts in the field of art education, but you don’t want to commit to weeks of class, AOEU’s online conference might be just what you are looking for. You can spend one jam-packed day watching some of the most inspiring art ed minds in the industry. Plus, you can access videos and downloads after the conference for a full year which makes it easy to earmark inspiring ideas to re-visit once school is back in session. AOEU’s online conference brings 2000+ art educators together in one uplifting event.


Learn More About the Next Conference


4. PRO Learning

If you want on-demand, à la carte PD focused on honing specific skills, like authentically integrating science into your curriculum or exploring oil paint in the secondary classroom, a PRO subscription would be an excellent choice. This ever-expanding, video-based subscription will pique your interest during hot summer days and beyond! With PRO, you have hundreds of videos and top-notch downloads available at your fingertips instantly. You can pick and choose what you are learning and when you are learning, streaming videos during a road trip or while relaxing at the park!

By the way, did you know that many schools are paying for their art teachers to access PRO for free? It’s the first personalized learning tool designed for schools to roll out to their entire art team!


See the Full PRO Learning Library


5. Podcasts

If you are looking for PD that is flexible and budget-friendly (aka free), AOEU podcasts are an excellent choice.

podcast logos

AOEU is home to two amazing podcasts:

  1. Art Ed Radio
    Host Tim Bogatz addresses a wide range of art education topics. Nothing is off the table in the podcast. You will laugh, you will reflect, you will grow.
  2. Everyday Art Room
    Host Cassie Stephens focuses on day-to-day affairs in the elementary art room. If you have ever felt lonely in this occupation and you are searching for your tribe, this podcast will feel like home.

How can you squeeze PD in and not lose your summer?

The most important step for successful PD in the summer is planning. Keep in mind, this is nothing like lesson planning or curriculum planning, this planning is all about YOU! Make sure you pencil in your other plans for the summer right in the same calendar. It is important to see how the other pieces of your life mesh with your professional growth and development so you can strike the right balance. So write in those long weekends and family vacations, and structure your PD in-between.

To help you think ahead, we have included three downloadable planning pages below.

There is a monthly, weekly, and daily option so you can customize a planner that works for you!

Calendar Pages

Download Now!


The next step is to actually use the planner.

Studies show goals are much more likely to be achieved if they are written down. If you are taking a course, plan time for online learning and outside work. If you purchase a PRO subscription, set a goal for the number of PRO Packs you want to complete each week, and if you are attending the conference, make sure to block off the specific date!

A little planning now will help you reach your goals, feed your soul, and still find time for all the summer fun you deserve.

What is the best PD have you completed in the summer?

What is your best time of the year to learn?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Heather Crockett

Heather Crockett is AOEU’s Chief Academic Officer and a former AOEU Writer and art educator. She is an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment.

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