The real answer –– and I’m a teacher –– is yes. And no. Teachers work very hard when school is in session and a lot less hard when it isn’t.
Robin Wilks, a custodian at Minter Creek Elementary, thinks teachers deserve the vacation time they get. “I know teachers are here more hours than they are paid for during the school year, so summer break is their only chance to have any personal time with their family,”Wilks said.
I know that’s true for me. I usually come home from work and immediately flop down on the couch with a cup of tea, so I gave myself one job during the summer of 2015, and that was to enjoy it as much as possible.
In doing, so I played Scrabble with my husband, baked a few pies, hosted visiting relatives, rigged up a slip-and-slide for my kids with plastic sheeting and a garden hose, and in general just relaxed and did the things that make me happy.
Because I am a teacher, one of the things that makes me happy is daydreaming about the new school year, and so that is another thing I did this summer.
This daydreaming took many forms. I clicked through classroom decorating ideas on Pinterest. I read a few of the novels my students are always asking me to read aloud. I researched classroom-organization tips.
But I did more than just daydreaming. For one, there was the task of packing up each and every item in my classroom and hauling it out to my new room in the portables, my part in the process of creating additional teaching spaces within Minter Creek Elementary School. Moving is hot, sweaty work and by chance, I picked a hot, sweaty day to do it. I am grateful to our custodians for getting the heaviest stuff.
Also this summer, I spent multiple days meeting with other teachers at my school to preview PSD’s new elementary reading and writing curriculum, Reading Wonders, and begin mapping out lesson plans for the first weeks. Optional work-for-pay opportunities such as this are common within the teaching profession throughout the year, including summer.
Teachers also use summer months to learn. In late July, PSD’s technology services began offering teachers a series of web-based trainings on various topics related to technology in the classroom. Previously, district technology trainings had only been conducted in person.
The new online meetings work well for teachers in summer, allowing someone on vacation to take part in training he or she might have otherwise missed. Ron Stark, PSD’s assistant director of instructional technology, said “We are excited about ‘Go to Training’ because staff can join a session from anywhere and don’t have to travel to a face-to-face session to receive the content.”
By mid-August, I had my boxes unpacked, most of my classroom decorating done, and I was ready to begin creating the infrastructure for my incoming class. This includes everything from photocopying first-day documents to updating the links on my website to preparing my notebooks for collecting student data. These myriad tasks must be completed before teachers attend multiple days of staff meetings at the end of August.
Lastly, just prior to the first day of school, all PSD staff members gather at one of the area high schools for an annual kick-off rally. There are a few speeches, new teachers are introduced, and then the whole group joins together to cheer the upcoming school year. I love that. After a long, quiet summer, teachers come back renewed and ready for an incredible school year, and the energy in that cheer is inspiring.