Editor's Note

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

It’s the dog days of summer, and there’s not a lot going on in the world of education—on the surface. Students, teachers and staff are enjoying a well-deserved summer break. Inflation costs and work shortages are putting a damper on the usual bustle of summer construction and renovation projects. The shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in late May—just two days before the last day of school—closed the 2021–22 academic year on a somber note nationwide.

I’m well over a decade removed from my last summer vacation. I’m at the age where I’m not even sure what I’d do with three full months off. I remember May as the last push through finals into the gleeful indulgence of sleeping until noon every day. I remember spending June hanging out with friends, catching up on books and movies and TV, maybe travelling a bit. In July, filling 16 waking hours every single day started to feel like something of a chore. And by August, it was really time to have something to do again.

However, even if school isn’t in session, there’s still plenty of work going on behind the scenes. Teachers are attending professional development sessions and staff training, or maybe teaching summer school. Admin is using the short respite to reset and revamp their facilities as necessary for the coming year. Students coming back to new furniture, new technology, sparkling-clean hallways and revised course curricula should know that all these changes didn’t come from nowhere. Schoolwork continues whether the students are there or not.

What follows are some highlights from the previous school year and some works-in-progress for the coming one. During that little bit of breathing room from the day-to-day madness, school administrators have time to consider broader-level ideas like electric school buses, or virtual reality technology, or the importance of the performing arts. We can review some highlights of the best ideas and projects from the past year for consideration for our own districts. Summer gives time to focus on the big picture before it’s back to the day-to-day grind.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Spaces4Learning.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].