About a week before the end of the school year, a state government employee, who only works 4 days/week, tried to tell me how easy teachers had it with summers off. I politely bit my tongue, although I did try to point out that I would spend much of my summer either in classes or planning for next school year and that the school district doesn’t pay me to work in the summer. She wouldn’t listen.
What I really wanted to tell her was that if she had to work with students day-in-and-day-out, then she would understand why every teacher looks forward to each break just as eagerly as the students. It’s difficult to convince a student of any age to focus and learn new material when they are busy watching the first snow of the season, or planning a Halloween costume, or looking forward to the first day that the pool will be open. And I know that I’m fortunate to be in a school with central air conditioning and a wonderful custodial staff that answers the phone every time I call to report that my classroom is too hot or too cold. Not every teacher is so lucky.
So my summer break is not a vacation (we travel over spring break for that). Until this summer, most of my days were spent at a sports field–some soccer, but mostly baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. I was very busy as a mom, and as a teacher-mom who wasn’t going to work every day in the summer, I volunteered to drive other players to games for parents who couldn’t get off work that early. I was keenly aware of my luxury of free time. My sons are now out of high school; it’s taking some getting used to not cheering on a team all summer long.
And like most of the prior 25 summers, I will be doing whatever I can to improve my teaching. I firmly believe that change is good. This summer is especially busy. I am participating in an online book club that I found out about through a Twitter chat that I follow most Sundays (shout out to Talks with Teachers and #aplitchat). Currently, we are reading Ken Robinson’s The Element, a nonfiction book that I probably would not have chosen to read on my own. It’s very positive, and I’ve already figured out how to use part of chapter 2 for a writing prompt next school year.
I have already gone through Level 3 training/Coaches Academy training for EIU TPS. That training started literally the day after the teacher institute day. I am now using that training to revamp my go-to informational texts resources presentation since I am giving that in two weeks. at an EIU Writing Project professional development day. I need it to be fresh for both me and my audience. When I give that presentation, I will also be giving a brand new presentation that I need to create. So it’s a working break, just different employers.
I am also attending a professional development afternoon this week (I am incredibly fortunate to live in a town with an education-oriented university); coaching for the EIU Writing Project; attending the annual ILA conference in St. Louis; and planning to teach two new-to-me courses that will start on August 18th. To be honest, I am really looking forward to each of those activities.
I know that sounds like I am either bragging or complaining, but I don’t intend to be doing either. I’m trying to be factual. Will I have a lot of time to do what I want and when I want to do it? Of course! I will get up and run some mornings; I will paint the interior of my house; I will sleep in or stay up late; I will not grade a single essay; and I will read a LOT of books. After 25 years teaching, I don’t know how to live my life any other way.
The circadian rhythms of a teacher are just different from the so-called norm.