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Whether you’re approaching your first summer vacation as a teacher or considering a career in teaching, you might be wondering: what do teachers do in the summer?

While teachers certainly take advantage of the rare opportunity to rest and recuperate after a busy school year, many invest their summer free time in professional development opportunities for the new school year. That can look like:

  • Pursuing additional state credentials and certifications
  • Applying for an advanced degree program
  • Revamping their lesson plans and syllabi
  • Testing out new technologies

In this guide, we’re breaking down all four of these opportunities in detail—and offering teacher TLC tips (because teachers deserve rest, too). 

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What Can Teachers Do Over the Summer to Prepare for School?

What do teachers do over the summer? During their well-deserved summer breaks, many teachers enrich themselves with their passion for education at summer school for adults.

#1 Earn Additional Credentials

If you’re a teacher looking to advance your career, discover new opportunities, or pivot to another educational discipline, using your summer break to earn an additional state credential and upgrade your teaching skills would be a great idea.

Depending on the specific teaching credential you’re pursuing, this process might include:1

  • Completing an additional educational degree program
  • Accruing professional development hours
  • Preparing for a state exam
  • Sitting for a state exam and submitting your results to the state

By earning an additional credential, you could qualify for jobs related to:

  • An additional subject
  • A new specialty, like special education
  • Administration and leadership
  • Classroom management and instruction
  • Specialty instruction, like adult education

If you want to advance your teaching career, you can make the most of your summer months by pursuing an additional credential or starting the credentialing process.

#2 Apply for a Master’s, Doctoral, or Postgraduate Professional Program

If you’d like to qualify for a new credential or improve your professional skills for the upcoming school year, consider applying for a master’s, doctoral, or postgraduate professional program over the summer. 

Generally speaking, there are three advanced degree types available to educators:

  1. Master’s degrees – Master of arts in education (MAE) programs offer generalized, advanced knowledge in a specific educational discipline such as school counseling or psychology. Some examples include:
    1. MAE in school counseling
    2. MAE in school psychology
  2. Doctoral degrees – Doctorate in education (EdD) and other doctoral programs offer in-depth training related to pedagogy and education systems as a whole. Two of the many educational leadership doctoral programs are:
    1. EdD in educational leadership and management
    2. PsyD in educational psychology
  3. Educational specialist degrees – Educational Specialist (EdS) programs often serve as a bridge between master’s and doctoral programs (like a PhD or EdD), and EdS students have the opportunity to closely study and develop a specialty. Two EdS degree programs available to educators are:
    1. EdS in school counseling
    2. EdS in school psychology

#3 Start Lesson Planning

Whether you’re teaching a new subject next school year or a seasoned pro in your current discipline, the summer offer a perfect time and opportunity to work on your lesson plans. This could include:

  • Creating new lessons to meet new state standards
  • Adjusting lessons to improve student outcomes
  • Updating existing lessons with new data or research

Getting ahead on lesson planning can help you save time in the coming school year, consult with mentors to refine your strategies ahead of time, or get feedback from administration. Getting ahead on lesson planning will be especially important if you plan to complete graduate coursework during the school year.

#4 Test Out New Tech

In the case that you received additional state funding, your district provided new tools, or you’re interested in investing in your personal teaching tools this year, consider testing and troubleshooting any new tech before the school year starts. 

If you have access to your classroom or your teaching tech over the summer, test out these devices to see how they work; you can even simulate a real lesson to brainstorm device applications in real-time.

On the other hand, if you won’t have access to your classroom or teach until your first day back on campus, brush up on your tools by:

  • Reviewing manuals and how-to guides
  • Signing up for tech-related professional development sessions
  • Reading guides and advice from other educators using the same tools
  • Testing different parent-teacher communication apps

Parent-teacher communication apps open a line of open feedback without the teacher needing to reveal their personal number. TalkingPoints and Remind are two popular apps that are multilingual as well. Both apps are free for teachers and student families.

#5 Take Time to Relax

Perhaps most importantly, teachers should relax over the summer: after a long school year spent molding the next generation, teachers deserve a break. 

If you have a hard time winding down over the summer, here are a few tips to help you prioritize rest:

  • Turn off your work email notifications and set an “out of office” reply for a limited time
  • Exercise or stretch to keep your mind and body busy—and off of work-related thoughts
  • Plan outings or social activities with friends to get away from your desk

The summer offers an excellent opportunity for teachers to invest in self-care and recover from burnout. This should be a top priority for educators while they have the time.

Explore Educator Professional Development at Alliant International University

While teachers should certainly use some of their time over the summer to catch up on rest, they might also choose to leverage their availability to advance their careers:

  • Pursuing a new credential
  • Applying for an advanced degree program
  • Getting ahead on lesson planning
  • Testing out new tech allows teachers to hone their skills this summer 

If the time is right to pursue new career development opportunities, explore educational degree programs at Alliant International University. In addition to high-quality instruction, we prioritize and provide flexible learning opportunities and hands-on training experiences to help educators achieve the best possible student outcomes.

Explore our advanced educational degree programs and start your application today.


  1.   “Teaching Credentials Requirements.” California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Accessed June 26, 2023. 


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