“The best part about teaching…June, July and August”
Have you seen this saying on a sign or a coffee mug?
Have you ever heard someone enviously talking about a teacher friend or relative that has all summer off?
Well summer has just begun, so I thought it would be appropriate to attempt to dispel the common-held belief that teachers have “the whole summer off!”
Three Months Off…with Pay!?
Let us first address the ‘three months off’ misconception. Most local districts require teachers to be there for at least several days – if not for several weeks – in June and August. In the county where I live, many schools are still finishing the school year at the beginning of June and most start back in mid-August. If you take into account that teachers continue to come to work well after children are sent home for the summer and return well in advance, we might as well move the count of three months down to two!
Additionally, teachers are paid per day and only get paid for days they actually work. Although many teachers continue to receive paychecks throughout the summer, it is simply because they chose to have their salary for the school year spread out over twelve months. So when they receive summer pay checks, it is actually money they were owed from working during the previous school year!
Disclaimer: Not all Teachers are Created Equal!
I think we can all agree that within all professions you will find employees that just aren’t as dedicated, knowledgeable, or driven as others. Most often these employees are in the minority. This is true in teaching as well. There may be certain teachers that just don’t do much of anything in the summer months unless it is required of them, but lets leave these teachers out of the following conversation because they certainly don’t represent most teachers!
So what do teachers do in June, July and August?
The truth of the matter is that teachers do work in the summer months. However, their summer work may not look quite the same as their job from September to May, when children of all ages fill their classrooms.
Here are just a few examples of the type of work you might find teachers doing throughout the summer:
Teachers go to School Too!
In most states educators are required to continue taking college classes beyond their undergraduate degree in order to renew their teaching license. In other instances teachers enroll in graduate level courses in order to learn more about their field, or to specialize in a specific area. Regardless of the driving force, for many educators summer offers the perfect opportunity to devote the amount of time and attention that graduate courses require.
Most schools have days earmarked during the summer for training employees in areas specific to the needs and initiatives of the district. Summer is a prime time for districts to train teachers to use new classroom materials or teaching strategies, learn more about new technology, review assessment data, or inform teachers about new federal and/or state mandates that can affect their instruction.
Revising and Planning
For many teachers – highly effective ones especially – planning and preparing for the next school year starts almost immediately after the last day of school. Throughout the year, as teachers continue to reflect and revise on their lessons, most don’t have time to make big changes for the next year – they are simply trying to get through that year! Instead, teachers often keep a laundry list of changes they hope to make for the next year. This may include trips to the library, searching the web, and scouring teacher stores and catalogs for materials or ideas. And one of the best times to do so is in the summer!
Bulletin Boards and Nametags!
Do you remember what your child’s classroom looked like during that back-to-school night held before classes began in the fall? Well let me remind you…The desks were all perfectly aligned and cleaned. Nametags could be found on all lockers, desks and supplies. There was a comfy book area filled with books arranged just so. Bulletin boards provided places for students to learn more about a topic or to display student work. In many classrooms, areas around the room were prepped to provide opportunities for students to read, write, study and socialize. All of this happened over the summer!
In most professions, employees are provided with time off to spend with family and friends…it’s called ‘vacation’ and teachers deserve it too! So, during the summer months you may actually observe a teacher relaxing by the pool, out to eat with friends, or doing some yard work. And instead of snidely remarking about how nice it must be to have the ‘whole summer off’ instead take a moment to thank them for all they do – all year long – in order to make a difference in the life of a child. Because if you ask me, there isn’t a more important, more demanding, more rewarding job on earth!