Every kid looks forward to summer. You stay up later, sleep in, swim, and go to camp all day long. There’s no homework or tests, and your family takes that long-awaited vacation.
Truth be told, every teacher looks forward to summer as well. In many instances they love this time of year for the same reasons that students do. Unlike other professions, educators must take their vacation in the summer, so it is only natural that they look forward to a small window of relaxation.
Despite this, it is a myth that teachers get eight weeks of “summer” vacation each year.
Every educator has listened to a non-teaching friend lament the fact that they don’t get the summers off; but the thing is, most teachers don’t actually know what a summer off looks like.
While it’s true that the workday is not from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. as it is during the school year, the work does not stop when the children leave the building for summer break.
Many teachers stay and teach summer school or provide new coursework for students who want to get a headstart on the next year. And this is just the beginning.
When I look at my summer plans, I see an abundance of professional development and training plans, travel for professional networking, and at least five to seven days set aside to work on my classroom.
There is of course a week planned for my family vacation, but beyond that I have teaching-related training or professional development plans at least one out of every five days, and often more. I truly believe that I am not the exception, but the norm.
Teachers use their summers to grow their practice and become more effective practitioners in order to benefit their students. We wear many hats and take on multiple responsibilities when school is in session. Often, we are unable to participate in deep professional learning during the confines of the school year.
The summer offers more flexibility and more content-specific education where we learn key skills. It is also the time when school districts provide mandatory training for new policies and curriculum such as Common Core, No-Nonsense Nurturer, Responsive Classroom, and technology advancements.
A teacher’s classroom is essentially their home base, their sanctuary; and it is also the hub of learning. Most teachers have a specific idea about how their space must look and they want it to be conducive to learning on day one.
In order for this to occur, teachers must work in the summer to make sure that everything is ready for school to start. Teachers have to create bulletin boards and set up learning centers. Teachers have to prep diagnostic assessments and parent packets. All of the things that seem to run so smoothly take months of preparation.
We plan months in advance for lessons that we will not teach until November. Along with these plans, we create study guides, assessments, projects, and activities.
So yes, students and teachers both look forward to summer. But teachers actually work tirelessly all summer long to make sure there is a great school year ahead. A teacher’s job never ends.