First let me say…every teacher knows they don’t have summers “off.” We do things all summer to prepare for the next year, work with curriculum, participate in professional development, teach summer school, and more.
BUT, if someone out there would like to know why we need summers off and what we do in the summer, here it is.
We must recharge. I have had the conversation with my husband that being a teacher is being “on” for seven hours a day, five days a week, for 36 weeks.
If you don’t feel well, it doesn’t matter. You can’t go into an office, shut the door and do your job.
If you are upset about something outside of school, it doesn’t matter. Those children need you and you have a job to do.
You are “on” and you are responsible for those 25 kids that day, just like every other day.
Honestly, there have been days I have loved the distraction of the classroom…bring able to turn off the outside world, while turning on for students.
However, at some point your battery needs recharging. You need to live for you…for a bit. My recharge is at the beach. I can breathe deeper and find me again.
It is strange to me to think there are teachers who have the same class set up for years and years.
I never had the same classroom arrangement from year to year.
I was always thinking about a better way to have small group or a better place for my classroom library or a better way to set up centers.
The best way to set up a classroom is to wait for the room to be all packed up and empty, then I go to town.
I want to think of the a better way to make my classroom the best.
When you get on an airplane the flight attendant asks for your attention for the emergency procedure speech.
I have always thought it was ridiculous to think I would put my own mask on before taking care of a minor child in my company.
It is counter-intuitive to do so.
However, I completely understand the need to take care of yourself so you help those around you more effectively.
The summer is a perfect time to take care of myself. I don’t have to be “on” in the summer.
I can allow myself downtime.
I can say unequivocally I am ready for school to start back and I am ready for the year of being “on.”
That’s right, I’m not going to deny it. There are days and weeks when I am up early, home late, and “on.”
It’s nice to relax. I tend to be a night owl in the summer…staying up late, watching movies, reading books, and getting things done.
I have stripped wallpaper (I think it’s relaxing, even if no one else does), cleaned out cabinets, and leisurely walked around a mall.
I have also eaten lunch at mid-day and I have gone to the bathroom when I wanted/needed to. (You can laugh, but every teacher is shaking her head and saying, “Amen.”)
I also tend to make doctor appointments in the summer for check-ups…sometimes it’s harder to make sub plans than take the time during the school year.
I have always known I would be a teacher.
I knew it when I got carbon paper and I could make my own worksheets.
I knew it when Mrs. Welsh (4th grade) would roll the chalk in her hands and make it click as she was talking to use.
I knew it when Mrs. Stiff (6th grade) would move our desks to the edges of the classroom and roll out plastic to have us use clay.
I knew it when I volunteered in a special education classroom and had preschoolers hang on my every word.
I knew it when I was in college. I have always known I would be a teacher, but as the years came and went my role in education has shifted.
I may not have my own classroom, but I feel like I am in a position of helping classes of children. The summer is the time to re-evaluate not only who we teach and how we teach, but why we teach.
Finally, remind yourself. The best book for teachers right now is the Wild Card by Hope and Wade King.
It combines all that is right with education: empowering students, student engagement, growth mindset, and finding your passion again.
What is your “WHY?” I have stated before Dr. Steve Perry (not from Journey) said, “If you can walk away tomorrow, you should walk away today.”
Teaching is more than a job. It’s more than a profession. It MUST include passion. It MUST include compassion. It MUST include love.
If it doesn’t make an appointment with your HR department and figure out if there is something else for you.
Don’t get me wrong…the biggest reason teachers need the summer off is that they aren’t paid for the summer. Our contract is for 190 days. 180 days with students. 10 days for workdays and professional development.
We aren’t paid for a full year.
If we want to get paid during the summer, we have to take money out of our pay throughout the school year and get it during the summer. So…let teachers have the summer to so what the need to do, so they are their best selves in the fall.