Teacher Voices: Summer “Break” Includes Association PD, Department Meetings, and Long-Range Planning (Laura Buder, Vestavia Hills)

This summer, ABPC Program Coordinator Emily Strickland asked some teachers in our statewide educator networks to let us know how they’ll be spending their summer break. Our final volunteer is Laura Buder, a world languages (German) teacher at Vestavia Hills High School, who defines the goal of summer professional learning as doing enough prep to reduce your stress and increase your confidence in the year to come.

Thanks to all our volunteers for sharing their summer plans. We can certainly see that effective teachers do a lot more than “take summers off”!  

Laura Buder
World Languages (German)
Vestavia Hills High School

1) What books do you plan to read this summer?

I’ve been traveling, and I’m not quite sure what I’ll be reading yet, but something fun and something to energize next year’s classes!

2) How will you be continuing your professional learning this summer?

I’m attending two Alabama World Language Association professional development days and meeting for a couple of days to collaborate on new ideas for next year with other teachers in my department. It always gets me excited for the next school year when I learn new strategies and find ways to practically implement them for my students!

Did you know that German is the third most-spoken language in nine U.S. states?

3) What reflection process do you use to think about the past year and plan for the next?

Throughout the school year, I make a list of things I want to improve upon or ideas I’d like to incorporate the next year. Over the summer, I look through the plans for the classes I teach and try to address each area and incorporate new ideas from PD that I have attended.

4) What advice would you give a first year teacher on how best to use their first summer as a way to prepare for the next school year?

Well it’s definitely important to actually give yourself a break away from anything school related for at least a few weeks. This goes for new college graduates too. But then it is good to create a realistic plan for what you can accomplish over the summer to make you less stressed during the school year and more confident in how you teach.

It’s a good time for big picture planning. I also love to include some practical professional development that will spark motivation in me and get me excited about returning to the classroom with some fresh and fun ideas for my students.

Laura Buder has taught German at Vestavia Hills High School for seven years. During that time, she has collaborated with her colleagues to restructure the German curriculum, implement learning targets and standards-based grading in her department, and develop the Seal of Biliteracy program for her school. 

Laura collaborates with teachers beyond her district by serving on her state chapter’s American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) board, attending and presenting at annual conferences, and offering workshops for world language teachers.