Category Archives: DC Resources

The Joys of Summer

By Destinee Hodge June 10th, 2014 4:15 PM

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “Teachers are so lucky, they get the summer off! I wish I got that long vacation at my job” or “Why do you all get such a long break? I need one as much as you.”

I usually just chuckle and brush it off in a weak effort to mask my condescension. Anyone who teaches knows that summer break is not a privilege; it’s a necessity.  It’s a time for teachers to do whatever they need to do in order to reflect and prepare for the upcoming year. So as a teacher, what can you do over your almost two-month break? From my perspective, that depends on your own needs and preferences. I usually separate my options into two buckets: “Make Money” or “Make Memories.”

Make Money

Teach Summer School: Yes, I know, it’s not for everyone. For some people the thought of teaching during the summer is not even a consideration— but there are some pros. First, most teachers in D.C. are paid year-round (despite having the summer off). This means that teaching summer school feels like making twice the money you would normally make for working similar hours. Second, you have the option to teach in an environment that’s different from your current school. This is a refreshing and eye opening experience, and I’ve always learned new strategies that I can take back with me to my own classroom.

Find Another Job: Perhaps you like the idea of more money, but you really value that break from teaching. For those of you in this category, there are many part-time jobs that you can look into. Once you’re okay with running into a student as you work the floor at a local museum, taking on a job keeps you occupied and is a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the school year.

Internships: this is something I wish someone would have mentioned my first year teaching. DC is an internship hub. While the pay may not be fantastic, you have the option of gaining valuable experience without leaving your actual job behind. For example, one person I know who wanted to explore education policy worked at an education non-profit as an intern during the summer. Just remember, if you want to do an internship, it may require that you apply during the fall or spring.

Make Memories

Travel: This option happens to be my personal favorite because there’s nothing like a great summer adventure. Usually at the beginning of the year, I start planning where I want to go and put things in place to get tickets and hotels.  There are also a lot of tour companies that have good prices (i.e. GLOBUS). For example, last year I did a tour of Spain with a friend of mine. We went everywhere, including the cities of Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona.  More than just adding a notch to my travel belt, I was able to share those experiences with my students and provide more authentic exposure to a different culture in my lessons. Even if you can’t go out of the country, a trip to Mount Rushmore can be just as exciting as a trip to the Eiffel Tower.

Rest and be a Tourist: D.C. is a great place to call home and summer is a fantastic season to live here. There are endless festivities and enough museums for you to go somewhere different every day. The great thing is that many of the museums are free or offer discounts to educators.

DC Summer Events:

You may not know what summer holds, but you can be confident that the course of summer is entirely in your hands!

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Beat Boredom with a Bus Ride

By Amanda Rogers February 28th, 2014 3:30 PM

“School is so boring.”

“I don’t want to be here…”

“Why do we have to do this?”

As a teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard at least one of these three comments from your time in teaching. If you are anything like me, those comments make your emotions bristle and your blood boil. You respond inside your head, “School isn’t boring! Of course you have to be here! And WHY are you learning this?” Hum, um, wait. That is actually a very good question.

Making sure that your students understand the “why” of what you teach is an essential part of learning. I have found that the best way to guide my students into understanding the “why” of what we are learning is by taking them on field trips. Thankfully, the list of resources that Washington DC has to offer (and most of them free of charge!) is staggering.

One of my favorite places to take my students is The Corcoran Gallery of Art. For my most recent trip, I worked with a docent at the museum to choose a tour that would align with what my students were learning in class. We settled on the “Five Senses” tour, which lets students look at and discuss art using their five senses.  The tour started at a series of stations, one of which was in front of a gallery painting.  At the station, students had the opportunity to touch and observe brushes, paints, and all of the materials used in making the piece. In addition to these art-related themes, the docent and I planned our own special twist to the content of the tour. We added information and interactions with a tour guide that centered on  animal habitats, supporting what students were already learning about in their general education classes.

museum sculpture

To say that the kids enjoyed the experience was an understatement. The students loved every minute of it, even the bus ride! I really enjoy watching my students in a setting outside of their regular school day, and this trip was no exception. I watched the way the students moved through the museum, soaking in all of the new sights and stimuli. I also noticed the way they interacted with the adult tour guide, expressing their interest in the art. I was proud of their questions, their ability to be independent, and their ability to connect the things we were learning inside our classroom walls to something in the real world.

This is just one example of the many, many field trips available to students and teachers in Washington D.C. As I mentioned before, many of the museums in Washington D.C. are free of charge. If you plan ahead, lots of them also offer complimentary bussing for your students. I encourage all teachers to plan a field trip. It exposes your students to things they might never see or experience. It connects your students to the world, and helps your students make connections to understand the “why” of what they are learning.

Please feel free to visit my blog for a recap of our trip to the Corcoran Museum.

Follow me on Twitter: @necityart

Plan your own field trips in Washington D.C here.

Amanda Rogers teaches visual arts at Langley Elementary School in Washington, D.C.