By: Cate Sommerhalter
Everyone assumes teachers don’t have to work over summer break. Read how this assumption is far from the truth and the behind the scenes work that is done over the summer
It is almost the end of the school year, and like clockwork, we all start hearing the same statements and questions. These come in many forms, but the bottomline is that I hate them all. Which ones do you recognize?
“Oh, do you work in the summer?”
“I wish I had three months off.”
“I should have been a teacher, they hardly ever work.”
“Teachers only work 8 months.”
First of all, where are these schools that have an 8 month calendar or where you hardly work? I must have been in the wrong districts because these schedules are new to me.
True educators are working all the time. When you get home from school, you are probably doing something school related. When you are researching ideas on your phone while kinda watching that sporting event, you are working. On the weekends, when lots of other 9 to 5ers are away from their jobs, you are doing lesson plans and trying to figure out how you are going to afford all the materials that will make a great lesson, but the Dollar Store people know you by name because who else buys 25 tiny plastic frog toys or 30 rolls of tape?
Let's face it, to be good (how about great?) at what you do, your mind is always going to be on your students and on your career. Maybe it's an idea from a book that you just read and that may fit into a lesson next January or you are scrolling and noticed a way to reshuffle your tiny little undersized and ridiculous classroom closet, (...who designs the closets anyway? Architects from the Hobbit?) All of these little thoughts accumulate to give your classroom and lesson plans a unique style that makes you who you are.
Take the respite that you have from the walls of your school building to relax, to recenter yourself and to refocus on the positive impact that you know you have made in your students' lives. Your career path is one of service and you are empowering our next generation. (I may have taken it too far there, but you know you are valuable!)
The next time someone asks you about your x month vacation, they don't deserve a reply. Or maybe add a few months to their statement. They say you have 4 months off, why not reply and tell them you actually have 6 months off? Importantly, be glad that you don't have to work with them, because they just don't get it!
Cate considers herself a recycled educator having taught preschool through college level classes in public, private and charter schools in rural, suburban and urban settings where she has also been a science supervisor, curriculum director, assistant superintendent and principal. Her love of science may have begun in elementary schools when she secretly but successfully incubated a chicken using a light bulb and aluminum foil in her bedroom closet. As a life long science geek and teacher advocate, she lives with a houseful of rescued pets including her pitbull, bearded dragon, some former stray cats and an angry bunny.