“It must be nice to have the whole summer off.” At least that’s what many people say to (and assume about) teachers. However, if you’re like the majority of educators, you can’t even remember a summer when you didn’t work or teach summer school, complete professional development, attend classes and meetings, prepare and refine lessons, learn new curricula – the list goes on and on…
We set out to dispel the myth of teachers’ relaxing summer vacations. Here are 10 things teachers really do on their “summers off.”
1. Summer Job
Teacher’s pay is historically low, especially compared to other professions with similar educational requirements. Plus, many teachers have to pay for their own supplies during the school year. That’s why it’s common for teachers to work one or more jobs in the summertime.
Teachers’ summer jobs may be related to education, such as teaching summer school, tutoring, or teaching abroad. Some teachers work at their kids’ summer camp so they may attend for free. However, sometimes teachers take seasonal jobs that, not only supplement their income, but also expand their horizons. Examples include:
- Bartender or waiter/waitress
- House sitter, pet sitter, babysitter or dog walker
- Hotel clerk
- Grocery store worker
- Uber/Lyft driver
Sadly, because teachers don’t get paid in the summer, these second—and sometimes third—jobs are almost necessary to make ends meet in many locations.
2. Professional Development
Teachers are required to complete continuing education credits in order to renew their license, and summer is a great time to take these workshops.
Continuing education is offered in subject specialty areas, such as math, science, and foreign language, as well as general teaching strategies, assessment, technology tools, and more. Teachers can catch up on their professional summer reading too.
3. Graduate School
Many educators pursue graduate degrees. Not only do these degrees enhance a teacher’s skill set, additional degrees mean higher pay. Summer is a good time to complete some of this coursework without the additional pressure of teaching a class.
4. Department and District Meetings
These meetings are a requirement to attend. Summer is when districts update the curriculum and prepare for the upcoming school year. Teachers are active participants in these meetings and must collaborate with their peers so that everyone is on the same page during the school year.
Teachers are natural coaches and many teachers coach their school teams where they are expected to fundraise, travel, go to tournaments, etc. during the summer. Since teachers are natural coaches, some even take on this role outside of school at club or youth leagues, clinics, and summer camps.
Teaching is a work of heart, and we already know educators have some of the biggest hearts out there. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to spend time in the summer, and many teachers choose to support their favorite causes by volunteering.
7. Parent Their Children
We forget sometimes that teachers are often parents of school-age kids. The summer is their chance to spend time with their children. As parents, they may set up or host playdates, drive their children to activities, and be the primary provider for childcare during the summer months.
8. Catching Up on the “To Do” List
While teachers can schedule time off during the school year, it’s a hassle to make sub plans. That’s why teachers tend to catch up on everything in the summer that they can’t do during the school year. This includes doctor and dentist appointments, home maintenance projects, and visits with out-of-town relatives. Check out these summer goals for teachers that may help you organize your “vacation” time this summer.
9. Relax & Recharge
Teaching is such a demanding job that burnout is common. Even if teachers are working elsewhere, the summer provides a mental break from the school year. Create a summer routine that helps you find some balance. Many teachers plan a summer vacation with their families which is a wonderful way to relax and recharge. Other relaxing activities include reading for pleasure, binge-watching favorite shows, and pursuing favorite hobbies. Anything that refreshes you mentally will help you be ready by the end of the summer to start it all over again.
10. Get Ready for Next School Year
Although teachers aren’t teaching during the summer, they never stop thinking about their students. They continue to purchase supplies and research fun activities to include in their lesson plans for the new year all season. They also get into their classroom the minute they get the keys to make everything perfect for their new kiddos – flexible seating, reading corners, labeled folders, etc. – teachers have it all ready weeks before students even set foot in the school.
Next time think twice before you tell a teacher how great it is to have “summer off.”
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