Two summers ago I was looking for a new apartment. I stopped at an apartment complex that looked very appealing. It had excellent access to the highways. Everything I needed, shopping, movies, the gym all was just a short drive away. I happily met with the leasing agent and he asked what line of work I am in? I told him I am a school teacher. His body language changed and a disgusted look on his face formed. The next words out of his mouth immediately made me not want to be a tenant, “Must be nice having the summer off!” Little did he know that I had just spent my summer in grad school taking the equivalent of two semesters worth of classes inside of 8 weeks. It wasn’t so much what he said but the snarky, arrogant, tone with which he said it. I could only think his misery derived from living a life without purpose. That, or the fact he was a Cleveland Browns fan….
If you are a teacher I know you can relate. Those of you who are not probably are thinking, “Oh boo hoo! You get the summer off, what are you complaining about?” You want to rant and rave on how you wish you had a teachers schedule. Here is what I would say to you. I would first let you know, in a polite way that according to the lunar calendar Summer does not start officially until June 20th, and goes to September 22nd. Teachers go back to school in mid to late August. So, your thinking is not only lopsided but empirical evidence would make you eat that crow! We get approximately 10 weeks. Ten weeks to recover from cramming 12 months worth of work inside of 36 weeks. Secondly, there are many people in education that only get one week off in July and that’s it. Some people work year round! Thirdly,anyone that actually believes for a second that we get the entire summer off, free from stress and toil is probably smoking the drapes. So what is it that teachers do during their summer break?
Well I’m glad you asked…
5. WE RECOVER!
As stated earlier, we cram 12 months worth of work into 36 weeks. Not to mention the personal time we sacrifice at senseless meetings, conferences, committee meetings and seeing student events and performances. From the first day of school onward we are in a marathon from hell and then it all comes to a screeching halt. Its exhausting! When that last day of school hits it often takes a couple weeks just to come down from the year.
4. WE RELOAD!
Many teachers use their summer to take some professional development or grad school courses. We look for new jobs! Not all of us are happy having to deal with endless amounts of bureaucratic red tape and unreachable demands that are placed on our heads. Some of us spend hours at our computers looking at new job opportunities or career advancements. Teachers read books, start working on lesson plans for the next year, begin thinking about how next year can go better. There is an immense amount of planning that goes in teaching young people. Think of it like planning the Normandy invasion for little ones.
3. WE WORK!
I happen to tutor for a national tutoring company here in Austin. I know some teachers that bar tend, wait tables, sell houses, work for Car Max, fast food chains, Walmart. Some even write blogs about teaching in a wishful attempt to make the money Pinterest said they would make. We may “get summers off,” but that doesn’t change the almost unlivable wages we are given for the miracles we perform. When your kids show up every day with spinners and cell phones but no paper or pencils, who do you think provides that for them?
2. WE GET OUR @#$% TOGETHER!
There is a reason why your dentist and doctors offices are booked all summer and winter break. Any break a teacher gets, I can promise you a good portion of it is spent dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. We refinance our cars, mortgages, switch apartments, nurture our 403b’s and other stuff. Monday thru Friday of the school year is dominated by class work and come the weekend we have just enough time to grocery shop and laundry. Christmas break, Thanksgiving break, Spring Break, Summer Break, these are all spent working on all the things we neglected in our 36 weeks of hell! Including our number one thing that teachers do during the summer time….
1. WE RECONNECT!
I can’t imagine how my lifestyle would affect someone that didn’t have the same schedule as I. Good thing she happens to be in education so our schedules coincide pretty well. Teachers do sacrifice a lot of their own families time so that your children can read, write, and understand enough about the world so that they don’t blow it all to hell. The amount of energy we commit to giving kids the tools and fighting chance to make it in this world is often given at the expense of our loved ones. Our families and loved ones sacrifice a lot because they understand that this is not just a job, but a calling to us.
I know there are educators out there that sit in their back yard all summer long, sipping on Pina Colada’s and getting caught in the rain! Good for them! There is no shame for having the means to just sit still for a few weeks before the kids return. I salute you! It is funny though how the those who tell teachers they are not paid enough, are often the same people who scoff and say, ” It must be nice having summers off!” I would tell you that the schedule is a good one, however, it is not as glamorous as some may think.