The U.S. News and World Report magazine has an interesting article containing three suggestions for high school math teachers to do this summer. I always have such a list of things to do and usually get maybe two done but one of the things I do year round is the first thing on the list.
The magazine recommends that we connect with other math educators. That can be difficult to do, especially if you are the math department in a small school in a small town that is a distance from anywhere with a larger school. Thanks to the internet because it allows you to join groups so you can connect with others. I love the google plus group Mathematics Education because it has so much that I am always finding good material. I can post questions, receive responses and keep up on the latest.
In addition, I belong to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and I subscribe to two of their magazines. Although I enjoyed the research one, I found the magazines for teaching high school and middle school math much more usable. One feature I use regularly is the cartoon math. I love it but my students sort of tolerate it because they hate word problems and this activity is heavy on word problems.
The second thing they recommend is to look for ways to make math more relevant including exposing students to some of the newer apps such as Desmos or GeoGebra which are both help visualize math. Another suggestion is to assign students a performance task that is linked to a real world situation such as a disaster relief simulation. If you read my blog regularly, you will notice I sometimes review apps or find real life applications of math on the internet. I want to tell students they will use this when they do this. It is important for students to see a connection.
The final recommendation is to look for inspiration by reading other educators blogs. This is one reason I subscribe to several blogs, read the Mathematics Education group (Josh provides links to worthwhile blogs) and do web searches for new blogs. I get ideas this way for my classroom. I also check out sites like the NCTM or AMA (The American Mathematics Association) or other such group for ideas.
The one thing I consistently do year round is look for inspiration by reading blogs, talking to other math educators, or just putting out a holler for help. Its a way to get past teaching students that if you are good at completing worksheets, you are good at math as noted by a teacher in the article. So true!