TLC  – Summer of Self-Development: Creative Ideas for Teachers to Explore Personal Learning and Discovery

A woman looking at a laptop computer while writing on a tablet, with her young son nearby.
Image via The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth

Summer is just around the corner, and as your classes wind down, it’s the perfect time to seize the opportunity to develop yourself and do some personal learning.

If you’re not required to focus on the technical aspects of professional development, summer may be a fantastic chance for you to learn or grow in something that brings you joy.

This article explores four of the most popular and unique platforms for informal virtual personal learning and self-development during and beyond your summer break. While courses on these platforms aren’t accredited, their approach to learning might awaken a new passion outside of work, and stimulate fresh creative ideas and approaches for your teaching when classes begin again in the fall.

  1. Udemy: COST: $0-$199 per course. If you prefer to space out your personal learning over many shorter sessions, Udemy is a low-commitment platform, offering unlimited lifetime access to single courses rather than annual access to the entire platform. With over 213,000 courses, there’s something for every curiosity. You can find basic training in anything from speed reading and memory-boosting to drawing, Reiki, cognitive behavioral therapy, Python coding, or piano. Paid courses come with (unaccredited) certificates of completion. While the quality of the courses may vary (especially with the free courses), any paid course comes with a money-back guarantee. Here is a full review of the Udemy platform and how it works.
  2. Wondrium: COST (after free trial): $150/year for unlimited access. If you’re a fan of binge learning, Wondrium, formerly known as Great Courses, might be for you. It’s an interactive treasure trove of learning exploration, offering curated, professor-level audio and video training courses in everything from art to sewing techniques, math refreshers, and meditation. It also includes members-only access to top-notch science, history, art, and cultural documentaries. Imagine being able to learn about astronomy, wellness, folklore, fine art, ancient Rome, wirework, baking, and martial arts from renowned masters in every category. This platform feels more like having a full-access pass to a museum filled with experts who want to sit down and demonstrate what they know, how it works, and why through interactive videos. The approach is generally academic, often providing access to textbooks to complement the instruction. Aptly named, Wondrium is for you if you’re a person who loves to learn for the sake of it—the focus is on enjoying the topics, rather than marketable proficiency in them. Here is a full review of Wondrium and how it works.
  3. Skillshare: COST (after free trial): $168/year for unlimited access. Skillshare feels more like a community of practitioners teaching each other what they know. If you’re looking for hands-on learning that gets to the core elements of a particular skill in as little time as possible, Skillshare leads the pack in highly niched, quick-learn skills. From organizing your refrigerator to creative writing, increased productivity, graphic design, woodworking, musical instruction, and web development – Skillshare has it all. You can progress at your own pace through project-based classes that range from beginner to advanced. Skillshare membership offers unlimited access to a vast scope of 30,000+ classes that focus on real-world applications. However, instructors aren’t vetted, and no certificates of completion or accredited badges are available. What you can walk away with is the practical skill itself. Here is a full review of the Skillshare platform and how it works.
  • MasterClass: COST: $180/year for unlimited access. Imagine learning how to cook from Chef Gordon Ramsey, how to play tennis from Serena Williams, or how to act from Natalie Portman. MasterClass offers entertaining, well-produced classes taught by celebrities and highly respected experts known for their practical mastery of the topic, rather than their academic credentials. Each course is essentially 2-4 hours of video broken into numerous 10-15 minute self-paced lessons presented by the celebrity Master. MasterClass also recently added a feature called Sessions, which enables learners to work alongside others with a hands-on structured curriculum over the course of 30 days, facilitated by trained teaching assistants who can clarify and provide feedback. While the format and length of the courses may limit the extent of mastery you can expect from a single course, the quality of the experience and the passion of the instructors can certainly awaken and ignite your own. Here is a full review of MasterClass and how it works.

Summer is a wonderful time for teachers and school leaders to recharge,  but it can also be an opportunity to enrich yourself personally and professionally. So why not take this time from some personal learning; to explore, discover, and cultivate a new passion? You never know how this personal growth might spark new life into your teaching methods in the fall. So go ahead, embark on a journey of learning and self-discovery this summer, and let’s get ready for an exciting new academic year!

About TLC

The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth (TLC) is a social enterprise company serving the Greater Philadelphia Area. Among its five divisions, TLC offers School-based Staffing Solutions, Mobile Coaching and Counseling, and Heather’s Hope: A Center for Victims of Crime. These major programs are united under TLC’s mission to promote positive choices and cultivate meaningful connections through education, counseling, coaching, and consulting. For more information, go to:

About the Author

MaryJo Burchard (Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership) is co-founder and principal of Concord Solutions, a Virginia-based consultancy firm focused on helping leaders and organizations thrive while facing major disruption. Concord Solutions offers consulting, coaching, training, research, and keynote speaking surrounding trauma-informed leadership and assessing and building change readiness, trust, and belonging.

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