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Summer School Top Ten Tips

Monday, March 31, 2014 -- Beth Holine

Summer school presents unique challenges, with special populations, abbreviated timelines and teacher preparation, to name a few. We here at Edmentum help help thousands of schools prepare and administer summer school programs, and we are often asked, “What are your top tips?” Well look no further; we have compiled our top ten tips right here! 

1. Have clearly defined roles and staff appropriately

At the end of the day, the success or failure of your summer school program lies in the hands of those who administer it. So, make sure you choose wisely, and give them the tools and training they need to be successful. In addition, make sure you have clearly defined roles, and ensure that you have the staff to handle the program size and variety of courses your summer school program will need. HOT TIP: A virtual school can ease the stress of staffing and help you expand the courses you can offer this summer (shameless plug, I know, but it is still true!).

2. Set a timeline with checkpoints and goals

What are the expectations of your teachers? Have you communicated those expectations to them? How will they know if they are successful and staying on track? Making sure everyone is on the same page at the outset is invaluable to the success of your program. Having a plan to keep them on track is equally as important.

3. Ensure that your teachers are prepared

Your teachers are obviously trained professionals, but summer school can be a whole new ball game. Are they going to be using new tools? Train them. Are they going to be using new curriculum and or have an abbreviated timeline? Make sure they are comfortable and prepared to present the material. Are they going to be working with a special population that they normally do not interact with? Have them do research and preparation, or possibly even have them shadow a teacher who is an expert in the applicable area. Ensuring that you have tip number 2 worked out will also go a long way to making teachers feel ready and prepared for what they are going to encounter this summer.

4. Monitor data daily

With your checkpoints and goals in place, you should be able to monitor large progress points. However, you will want to make sure that you and your teachers have real-time data to make on-the-fly adjustments and individualize instruction. Summer is short! Make sure that you have the data to use it wisely and effectively.

5. Develop and maintain a process

Who is eligible for your summer school program? Once that is decided, set grading policies, attendance guidelines, and testing procedures. Then, communicate with students and parents to ensure that they are aware of your expectations.

6. Have a communication plan

What will you use to communicate with students and parents? How often are you going to communicate with parents? Under what circumstances will they receive communication? How will you communicate with students, as well as the administrators of the program?

7. Differentiate  instruction

By offering your students a personalized approach to learning, you can promote increased motivation, engagement, and achievement. Decide at the outset of your program how you will differentiate instruction, whether that is through a tool (like one of the AWESOME solutions we provide—again, a shameless plug, I know) or through a manual process.

8. Consider the nontraditional summer school student

There can be more to summer school than traditional remediation and credit recovery. You can present students with a variety of expanded course offerings and acceleration opportunities that meet a range of academic needs, including advanced placement and college readiness.

9. Evaluate

When the dust settles, you will want to evaluate your program. So, make sure you start with the end in mind. What metrics will you need at the end of summer to evaluate your program’s success? Make sure that you have these metrics clearly laid out at the beginning of the summer so that you will be able to properly track and evaluate the success of your program.

10. Make it fun and celebrate success

Not many students are excited about spending time in the classroom during the summer, so keep them excited about learning by creating summer contests and building in motivational goals. Communicate regularly with students regarding their progress. Set summer goals, and celebrate when your students achieve them! A little recognition can go a long way.

Want to learn how Edmentum can help you provide a successful summer school program? View our Guide to Summer School Success.