The Summer Life of a Teacher: 7 Things You Need to Know!
There is a surprisingly common belief that teachers get summers off. The image of a well-rested teacher lounging by a pool, brainstorming ways to torture students while drinking deliciously cool and fruity drinks is as inaccurate as it is appealing.
Work follows teachers home every day after school and every summer during “break.” Teachers spend most of their time working—and a lot of it (if not most of it) is unpaid. In fact, the secret summer life of a teacher involves less lounging by a pool and more professional and lesson plan development.
Here are the things teachers actually do during summer break—notice the grievous lack of lounging and piña coladas.
1) Running into students in awkward and unexpected places.
Entering the bathroom of an IHOP, leaving an R-rated movie, or dining out on date night (where a former student may even be their server) are all activities that invite an awkward encounter with a pupil. This is just one consequence of molding and developing young minds year after year. Teachers run into their students in the most unexpected places and, though they do their best to remain unseen—in the interest of avoiding an awkward encounter—more often than not, they are recognized.
2) Trying to pay the bills with a summer job.
Teachers aren’t in it for the money. How could they be? Teaching is considered one of the most poorly-paid professions in the nation. Many teachers, in fact, depend on a second job to help pay the bills. For them, summer is definitely not a paid vacation, as many people tend to think.
Here’s why: teachers are commonly paid in equal distributions over 12 months. Summer is not a paid vacation—rather, schools hold back some of a teacher’s paycheck each month during the school year to cover their pay for the summer months. But this pay may still not be enough to cover all of a teacher’s living expenses.
In addition, there is no set standard for the payment process. Different schools have different pay arrangements and most teachers have to supplement their income during the summer. One thing’s for sure: for most teachers, summer isn’t much of a vacation. They’re either busy working a second job, teaching summer school, and/or taking classes for certification renewal or to advance their own education.
Students have summers off. Teachers spend summers working.
3) Thinking about students—both former and future.
The thing about being a teacher is that they can’t simply distance themselves from their teacherly instincts and habits. Even during the summer, they can’t escape their genuine concern for their students. They spend time thinking about past students and trying to anticipate the needs of their future students. They also spend time worrying about what challenges new students (and their parents) will throw at them during the next school year.
4) Brainstorming and developing amazing lessons.
Developing lesson plans requires brainstorming, inspiration, research, resources, and more. During the school year, teachers are often much too busy to dedicate time to creating brand new lessons. With in-class teaching, grading, paperwork, and other responsibilities taking priority during the school year, summertime is the best time for them to focus on lesson plans—work that usually goes unpaid, unappreciated and unnoticed.
5) Learning new technology or curriculum programs purchased by their schools.
During the summer, teachers also have to spend time learning how to use new technology, resources and programs their schools will be using in the coming year. This means they have to figure out not just how these tools function, but how they can be successfully integrated into the classroom. If teachers don’t spend their summer brushing up and self-educating, they can expect to be unprepared and ineffective during the next school year—a teacher’s worst nightmare.
6) Continuing their own professional development.
Surprise! Teachers are lifetime students. They never stop learning. During the summer teachers spend some of their time working on their professional development. Whether it’s taking courses for their master’s degree, reading about the best teaching techniques, or attending meetings and workshops, teachers know that they need to keep learning and growing in order to better teach their students and meet new challenges. And if they aren’t working on their own development, odds are they’re helping others focus on theirs by running and facilitating workshops, helping train new teachers, and getting involved in their community.
7) Dreading the back-to-school sales, but still pining for new supplies.
Back-to-school sales are the beginning of the end. Though most teachers spend their summer time working, there are a few summer perks they’re sorry to see go. For example, not having to hold their biological needs; during the school year, being in charge of thirty or more students means you can’t just run to the restroom whenever the need arises.
Other summertime perks include being able to hit the snooze button, reading books for pleasure, and spending more time with family and friends, all of which decrease in frequency when the school year starts. Yet, even though the back-to-school sales signal the end of a more relaxed season, it’s also a wonderful time for people who love office and school supplies—we mean teachers, of course.
Teachers, did we miss anything? Share your thoughts in the comments! We’d especially love to hear about any awkward meetings with students outside of school! And don’t forget to follow ECR4Kids on Facebook, Pinterest, or our blog via email!