If one more person tells me, “It must be nice to have three months off a year,” I might scream.
Let’s dispel the age-old myth that teachers have three months off to lounge around the house in pajamas or take lavish vacations. Here’s the truth.
In my district, the last day of school was May 31. The first day of summer was June 1. We return to school on Aug. 6. Even if I didn’t work a day in the summer (which I do), that's only two months and some change.
Here's some insight into the life of a teacher during "summer vacation."
1. Lesson planning, grad classes, professional development. Did you know that teachers have to take six credit hours every six years to keep their certificate up to date? Most teachers do not have this cost reimbursed either. We work on classes throughout the year or the summertime. My summer has been spent researching, reading and designing through my grad studies. I have also helped design a new elective course and am getting ready, with my colleagues, for my students to each get their own laptop for the first time this school year. Get on social media and you’ll see teachers participating in Twitter chats, sharing photos of their room setups (which they do in the summer) and collaborating with global colleagues. We don’t stop learning!
2. Teachers don’t really get paid in the summer. In some school districts, teachers do not receive their salary during the summer months. In those that do, their nine month salary is divided up over 12 months. It’s not paid vacation.
3. This is not a 40-hour per week job. Many teachers arrive at school and leave well before and after their contract hours. Ten-hour days are not abnormal at school, and then educators take work home to grade, lesson plan and create for their students.
I’m done apologizing.
Are there days I spend at the pool? Do I take some short trips throughout the summer? Do I get to spend some free time with my daughter? Yes! I won’t apologize for my “time off,” just like anyone in a vacation-earned job should not be sorry for taking some time to relax and enjoy life. I’ve earned it with my countless hours of dedication to my learners throughout the school year and summer.
It’s worth it.
Those who choose teaching don’t do it for the two-month break. We do it because we love teaching children and making a difference. I don’t mind the extra hours even in the summer because seeing the change I can help make in the world makes it all worth it.
Jen Schneider is a local middle school teacher and mom to two children.