Main | How Much Should Teachers Make? »

How Are You Using the Summer 'Break'?

| 79 Comments

Vacations are a thing of the past for many teachers, what with financial pressures, summer school, and increased professional development options and course-preparation needs. How are you spending this summer? How will your summer activities carry over into your classroom in the fall? In your view, what's the most useful way for teachers to spend the summer? How has summer "break" changed in recent years?

Join our discussion.

79 Comments

During the summer teachers should reinforce their skills regarding teaching gifted-talented children. Few teachers are certified in the field and even fewer districts have programs to hire GT teachers. Yet there are GT children who need our help. They are many deviations away fro the norm in how they learn, the speed at which they absorb material, and even in how they manage their social relations.

The Davidson Institute in Reno, NV offers free guidance, articles, etc. for teachers and administrators. If a teacher is motivated they can learn a lot from this group. Too often TAG programs are being cut due to budgetary constraints. Gifted children do not learn the same way as others. It may not be politically correct to say, but our best and brightest minds deserve to be educated at the level appropriate to their ability. I wonder if anyone else dares to admit that not all children absorb information and learn at the same rate? ...that some students are more capable of higher levels of thinking than others AND that this is a good thing that can make us competitive in the global marketplace. That is, if we teach these kids. First, as teachers, we must recognize we need to learn HOW to teach these kids before they turn off on school. www.ditd.org can help and doesn't cost a penny. We have options over the summer even without budget money.

I am working on four big projects; that are part of professional development, meeting personal goals, working on family goals and will aid in community involvement activities projected in the upcoming year. They are 1) spending quality time with my family, 2) "preping" for the upcoming year by aligning my currilulum with standards in preparation for upcoming year, 3)taking Master's online courses, 4) planning for children's ministry activities for upcoming year.
I don't necessarily believe that reinforcing skills for a specific group, "gifted or talented" or "special needs" is necessary for everyone. I believe that the summer is a godsend for the teacher as a professional to take a big breath of fresh air and focus on things that are important to him or her. This could be professional or personal. Some teachers use that time to earn extra money, some to catch up on quality time with their families. Others like myself have more ambitious agendas because they are trying to plan ahead while accomplishing personal goals.

Teacher's should be allowed to have "card blanche" to summers. I believe that is being infringed upon with changes in year around school and other politically oriented agendas. Although this is not the forum to discuss the pros or cons of such items, nevertheless they are making a profound impact on how much time summer off time we will have. In our state, we will break up our summer, reducing it to one month and dividing up the remaining time over the year with quarterly breaks in the 2006-2007 school year. How this will impact us all will have yet to be discovered.

In one of my team chat rooms during graduate studies, I emphasized the importance of teachers having a 12-month contract. The fact that many teachers are shut out of their classrooms during the summer months is absurd.

Allow professionals time to refresh, reconstruct, reconstitute, and reorganize, before reconvening. This is the perfect scenario for professional development, faculty and staff meetings, which otherwise cut into valuable instuctional time.

Teachers have their opportunities for vacation periods, and if they worked during the summer months say, seven weeks (with full-time, year-round salary stipends), we could accomplish so much more in the area of student success rates.

Now students do not need to be in school for the two-plus extra months; however, they must be kept occupied with structured activities for at least half of that down time.

Let's open our eyes, as well as our minds, and begin to maximize all possibilities for better student achievement, and teacher proficiency.

Summer is my chance to recharge, reconnect, and take some time to plan for next year. Its my time to pursue my favorite pursuits, read all of those books everyone was talking about, and spend unscheduled time with my children and friends. Having this time makes me a better, more energized teacher. I have uninterrupted stretches of time to research new lessons and develop really good plans for implementing them. Best of all, I can do this sitting on the beach.

Usually I choose a stack of books in the late spring that I to look forward to reading over the summer. The stack includes, fiction, nonfiction, and several professional titles. (I'm an English teacher; this is both relaxation and doing what English teachers really ought to do - and what a pleasure it is!) I usually also do a little consulting on the side. This summer I've changed schools, and the 12-month pay schedules of the two schools are off by a month so that I'm making up pay for missing checks in August, boning up on xhtml and cascading style sheets, setting up a Web site, a Web archive and a blog. I've discovered the power of notetaking software in keeping up with everything related to the project. (For me that's AquaMind's NoteTaker; for PC users it would have to be OneNote.) There are lots of uses for these tools in education. The truly professionally enriching thing about this project is that I'm now equipped to use technology more effectively in instruction. And because I do these sorts of projects periodically, I can talk to my students with a little more credibility about what employers are looking for (good communications skills, for instance) and the critical importance of learning how to learn. Doing something completely different occasionally can actually bring as much to my teaching as going to workshops can.

Break? There's a break?

I just finished my first year teaching. This summer I took one class at the university for my reading endorsement, one class online for ESOL, and a four week National Writing Project Summer Institute. Despite all of this, I found it hard to NOT be teaching. I never realized I would miss doing what I so passionately adore, so much that it would almost depress me. Fortunately, I am going on vacation on Friday. I think the only way to relax is to get far away from home.

The demands on teachers, especially new teachers, are outrageous. I am glad to hear that some teachers are finding this a time to relax and renew and prepare. I feel like all I can do is just keep up. I keep thinking Next summer.....next summer....no classes...next summer.....

Summer is a time for me to research, refresh, and refine my curriculum and teaching methods, a time to rearrange and renew the classroom. Summer school aided these pursuits. During the school term, my class maintains bird & butterfly gardens. In summer I keep gardens going--barely--but think next year I would like to work with a community garden plan that involves parents and children near the school. My teachers' reading group meets in summer over dinner to discuss books and gourmet eating; we go to movies together. As a team member with Global Volunteers, I will be a conversational English assistant in a university for two weeks--my Spanish should improve.

Summer holiday is a great chane for teachers to refresh themselves and to reflect on their last year prformance. For us as Muslim teachers, it is an unforgetable occasion to visit the holy cities, i.e. MAKKAHA and Madinah. to increase their faith in ALLAAH.

It is true that teachers should always be improving their teaching skills, strategies and techniques to refresh and update their classrooms. I am spending part of my summer working on my National Board Certification and searching for new, alternative ideas to teach my high school Spanish courses. On the other hand I am a true believer that, after ten excrutiating months we also deserves some time to enjoy our vacation doing fulfilling activities that will enhance our personal and spiritual path. In the end, as teachers we must enjoy a balanced that will eventually show in the way we teach and interact with our students. Work is just part of what we are, not all and a vacation is the time to relax and re-energize for the long school year ahead.

This summer began with an intense week of training to be a facilitator for a state mathematics program. I followed it with a two week prep for National Board Certification. Both of these helped me to reflect upon my teaching practices and allowed me to network with my peers - both I do too little of during the school year.
What is important for teachers is that they recharge and reflect in whatever medium works for them.
I am excited to leave next week with twelve 14-15 year old Girl Scouts to travel to Mexico. My adventures are not always inside the classroom!

I have spent the summer working in three different learning communities related to my school's SIP and attending an AP Chemistry workshop. I'm also now recovering from lung surgery to remove some nodules that were found in April, but I couldn't take off from school for the surgery due to state mandated tests having to be administered by a certified teacher.

I'm working with a group of virtual colleagues to define instructional strategies...in this case an Interactive Notebook. We decided to use a wiki to record all of our ideas so there would be a common place where everyone else on our list could go to access what we've put together. http://interactivenotebook.jot.com/WikiHome is where we are attempting to do this. It is the first time many have used a wiki and our first collaborative effort in writing down what we know.

I'm working with another group of teachers to help finish defining pilot units for our new social studies curriculum. We define a set of posthole concepts that spiralled throughout K12 and now the committee is writing conceptually based enduring understandings, essential questions and units that reflect those new definitions. I'm working with 5th grade teachers to write a Constitution unit...that builds into what they learn in 7th grade. It's a real vertical team project. Also I am working with part of this group and our local World War I National Monument to define how we could use the Monument in our curriculum. We want to use their theme of peace in our 8th and 11th grade courses. So the question is how does the theme of peace after WWI figure into conflict resolution for middle schoolers? What lessons of history are applicable? Then for 11th graders, how does this Monument have the elements of citizenship that they need today? How does peace look now or what vision can they cast for themselves?

Lastly I'm moving to a new grade level so I'm boning up on all things fractions, decimals and percents. Coupled with lots of new earth and space science concepts. I'm writing specific learning targets for each concept and trying to integrate journaling...writing to know...at every turn. I also want to use more technology. So I'm working to create little iMovie explorations of science ideas, for example, so my science class becomes very inquiry oriented.

From August until June I work 12 hours a day, bring work home at night and spend most of Sunday working on lesson plans for the upcoming week, so by the time I get to June I really need some time to myself. Don't get me wrong I love my job but I do experience serious burnout by the time summer comes along. I am still working on my master's on-line over the summer but I have been doing that since January. Summer gives me more time to think about my courses and just how I can use the new information to improve my classroom next year. The break also gives me some time for my family and friends and that makes me a better teacher too.

For the last 4 years I have worked in an Enhanced Option School. We only had 2-3 weeks off during the summer. This year I chose to stay at home. I'm taking 9 hrs. of classes online towards my masters. The classes have kept me very busy along with my 10 and 2 year olds. We took a 2 week family vacation to Paradise Island, Bahamas. My husband just got a promotion and won't have another good vacation for a while. In the mean time, I'm working hard on classes, thinking of new ideas for the coming year, and spending time with my children.

I've just finished a four week National Writing Project symposium and it may be the best thing I've ever done for my teaching. I recommend it to everyone. There are NWP sites in all 50 states, usually associated with a university. In some states there are several sites.

Next week I will participate in a symposium on Native American authors.

Becoming a better teacher. That's what summers are partially for.

After reading all of the entries, I find it amazing that anyone would say that teachers don't do anything during the summer! I am in the process of getting my master's and administrative credential. We are also, working on the pilot for our schools attempt at collaboration. I am also currently working on curriculum for two new classes that I will be teaching in the fall.

I agree with George that it would be nice to be able to access my room during the summer months. I usually have to lug home manuals and supplies in order get prepared for the fall. The few days before school that we get as 'prep-time' is not enough to organize and plan for a successful year. Having use of our rooms during the summer months could help to alleviate some of those 12 hour days in the school year.(R. Artessa)

Marsha, I am going to check out, your 'interactive' site. It is something that we might be able to use for our school's collaboration.

It is ironic that we are given the summer off to rest and recharge yet, many of us continue to work to make our teaching skills better. I wish that more people knew what we are really doing. In the years to come, I think that there will be more emphasis on teacher training during the summer months. It is something that I have seen as a growing trend in our area for some time.

I am smiling now as I get ready to submit this comment because I have a list of things that I am going to immediately look up on the internet. It is a lovely day outside.....I wonder if I will get to enjoy it?

This summer I traveled to the DC area for the first time since I left the east coast as a two year old (I'm 43!). My family and I visited all the museums and memorials and took several side trips (Monticello, Williamsburg, Gettysburg). A valuable and inspiring trip for all. As for the remainder of the summer, I'm spending time reading, reading, reading, with the goal of finding new strategies in my classroom to prevent burnout. As an English teacher, I carry home far too much paperwork, and after doing this for 16 years, I think I'm working more than I used to rather than less. In theory, I'm only half way through my career, but I look at my health, stress and energy levels and wonder how I'm going to make it. At the moment, I'm specifically looking for strategies on how to deal with late homework. I vacillate between wanting to give the kids a chance to catch up and wanting to eliminate the headache of a constant flow of overdue work. My policy has been to give students 10% off if one day late and 50% off after that, but the bookkeeping is driving me insane. I'm having trouble finding much info on the internet about other teachers' policies. My other "problem" to work on is what to do about students' independent reading. Our school uses Accelerated Reader, which is a great timesaver for assessing student reading. However, I have a significant portion of students who want to read non-AR books. In the past, I've had them write a quiz, which is quick to grade, but I've realized that many of these "quizzes" are written by students who just flip through the book and make up random questions. I get tired of trying to figure out who is actually reading and who is just cheating. Anyway, if any of you have any suggestions out there on these two issues, I'd love to hear from you!

As a first year teacher, I was excited to have the summer months as a time to reflect, relax, and reconstruct lesson plans and curriculum that I'll use in the future. In the fall, I'll be changing schools-from a middle school to a high school-so, it's going to be a very new transition with rules, people, students, and well, everything to get used to. I can truly say that I relish the time I have had off from teaching to read and spend time with my family and friends, as well as being more active at church with the youth ministry. Summer is more than just relaxing physically, but getting mentally prepared to be a better and more effective teacher for 10 months.

Because I retired from my first career in 2000 after 25 years in public ed., and I am in my second (childhood?:-), I am having a wonderful summer here in the office, being able to look at research, our own statistics, and national best practices. I began taking early childhood courses (online because we are in remote Alaska) this past spring and I realize I am in a whole new area of challenges even though I received a doctorate just ten years ago. It is so cool to consider all the growing that is going on in infants and toddlers and preschoolers. We have a huge responsibility in early childhood. After all, they'll be in the K-12 arena eventually and we have to use the windows of opportunity to develop language et al.
During the summer I have time to read the literature I can usually only skim during the program year. This activity too is invigorating and challenging. I actually have time to consider what it looks like in practice. Although I don't have my own classroom, there is a child care classroom in our building, so I can try things out on them.
Also, for the past ten years, I have been involved in short mission trips during vacation times. Now that my husband is a pastor, we have mission teams in our home. A team is currently repairing elders' homes in our village. Another will have Vacation Bible School in August. I have found that these kinds of activities give me another type of education, as well as the opportunity to stretch my servant attitude:-) Refreshing!

I don't have a summer "break" because I teach in a year round school district. I work three months and have one month off. I believe that this schedule works best for all involved: students, teachers, and parents. As a teacher I get time off throughout the school year to refresh, rethink, and learn new methods. (My district provides staff development throughout the school year.) As a parent, I only have to worry about three or four weeks of extra daycare for my children rather than 2 and a half months. As for my students, by the third week of vacation, they are bored and ready to come back to school. I think this schedule is great!

Watching the hummingbirds, taking walks and re-connecting with the earth are my aims. I am careful to guard against "activities" that would intrude upon the necessary pursuits of relaxation and daydreaming.

I greatfully begin working at a new district in less than two weeks. While I have moved my boxes into my classroom, I am awaiting approval to unpack and set up my room.

At the beginning of the summer I took the last two classes for my Master's during a 5-week online session. For the first two weeks of these classes, I was also attending a half-day, 45-hour Spalding class required by my new district. This school purchased a new reading series, and I do not know how much of Spalding will be supplemented with the new series this year. I can only hope that during the new teacher inservice, I will have time to work in my room and plan. I am fortunate in that I will work on a team of 1st grade teachers (mostly new), with a lead teacer.

While this is not a typical summer, I have spent several of the last 7 attending classes, sometimes all summer, and carrying 12 credits. As well, at my previous district we prepared for the upcoming year, without compensation. Some years, however we were allowed access to our rooms so we didn't have to lug materials home.

And, of course there were the few days that I could slip away to visit out-of-town family, shop for classrooms supplies, catch up on yardwork, and just "relax." Too few. I keep thinking I'll get that "vacation" I need, but money and time are deciding factors, and at this time, neither is in my favor...Thank goodness I love teaching.

I smiled as I read the plans and goals of the teachers who have replied. I, too, wish that politicians and parents knew just how dedicated and hard-working teachers can be, and just how much time and passion we put into our jobs. I have been teaching high school mathematics for eighteen years, and I have yet to have a summer free of education-related work. I just finished my master's degree the end of last summer, having taken evening and summer courses for two years, and prior to that, have spent many hours in summer workshops, either attending them or presenting them. This summer, I spent about 40 hours attending technology workshops provided by our school system. Following that, I spent about 3 full days collaborating with the two new geometry teachers at our school in an effort to re-organize our curriculum and develop some engaging and hands-on activities. In addition, I will be teaching calculus this fall, so I have spent many hours in preparation for that.

I have found that the demands on our time have increased significantly so that it is almost impossible to do quality instructional planning during the school year. Dedicated teachers are spending 10 to 14 hours a day during the week, and up to 10 hours a weekend just doing the daily requirements of our job. This kind of schedule does not really stimulate creative lesson planning. Although I cherish the summer as a time to meet personal goals, I feel that I spend a great deal of time working on educational goals. I think that it is important for teachers to do this...it is the mark of an excellent teacher...but some time is needed for relaxation and personal goals as well.

Professional development is essential to keeping us current and renewed! I wish that policymakers knew how essential it is and would design policies and schedules that would enable all teachers to participate in professional growth. I hope they will realize just how much time dedicated teachers spend at their jobs and that they will do all in their power to protect teachers'time.

Most summers I either run a staff development course, write curriculum, or take workshops for myself. This year, however, I gave to me. As a result, I have been rewriting and recreating units, books and ideas of how to change my teaching for the better. Allowing myself this time to read, think and experience has been more valuable than any course I've taken.

How are you spending this summer?
I renewed my credential for a second time and took the NBPTS 4 hour written test. I just got back from the NEA RA to keep energized by our national teacher's union leaders, policies and best practices and will be attending a professional development program sponsored by National Department of Education. I'm not teaching summer school so I can complete a house addition and nuture the garden and my soul. This by taking small trips of 2-3 day durations to relatives and historical, recreational and artistic sites. Other than renovating, relaxing and rejuvenating, I'm taking time to just BE.

How will your summer activities carry over into your classroom in the fall?

From reflections in the National Board process I'm reviewing practices and curricula for the coming year, creating posters, centers and activities to organize my teaching life better for next year. By being with my colleagues, my thoughts and notes from the prior year I can ferret out what worked, what didn't and how to improve. By relaxing, my spirit renewed for the new year will benefit the stduents with a healthy, happy educator. I always bring jackdaws back from my travels so the kids can be engaged with historical site visits that correpsond to Native American, government processes or California/geography or ocean science areas.

In your view, what's the most useful way for teachers to spend the summer?

Relax first, reflect on experience, renew energies for the upcoming year and rejuvenate all the resources that made you an exciting educator to begin with. Build on the successes whether by professional development, reading or traveling. A teacher's best resource that either carries forward or leaves, is SELF, so take care of that!

How has summer "break" changed in recent years?

Since marriage and a home purchase, trips are shorter as relationships need time to grow and household responsbilities don't seem to ever decrease. I work in order to play and to me play is travel, so only the duration of those travels have changed, until retirement, that is.

I had an idea for Ingrid above, about making sure students are reading the non-AR books--maybe make them "prove" themselves by doing a certain number of the AR books BEFORE they can do the non-AR books. I'm not familiar with the system or how many books they can read during a summer, but this might weed out the ones who are just flipping through the books.

During this summer, I am teaching! And going throught the NetFlix Documentary section and Sci-Fi section looking for more movie clips I can show my students. (info clips, bad science clips, good science clips, I use a lot of movies in my classes because it breaks up the lectures.)

Oh, and working on my dissertation.

As the director of the QuarkNet and Physics RET programs at the University of Notre Dame, I am able to offer physics teachers an opportunity for both professional development and income along with networking and a teaching community.

As a former high school physics teacher, I found the summers off to be a blessing, especially following my first two years of teaching! The third summer, I finished my master's degree. I got involved in high energy physics research the following summer.

The QuarkNet program allows high school physics teachers to do real physics research in a real lab with real scientists. Many of us teaching physics have had research experiences - 20+ years ago! This opportunity to work with physicists, technicians and other teachers on cutting-edge physics has given me (and others) the opportunity to be treated with the respect that is afforded professional scientists - something that is often lacking in education. Being a part of a collaborative effort in designing, constructing and testing components for particle detectors at Fermilab (outside of Chicago) and CERN (Geneva, Switzerland) helped to rejuvenate me each summer while I was still teaching.

For the past four years, I have worked full time (12 months a year) to keep these opportunities available and running at the University of Notre Dame and at the other 52 QuarkNet centers at universities and national labs across the U.S. I miss the choices that I had with summers off when I was a teacher; however, I now have an exciting job in which I am consistently treated with the respect a professional deserves.

National QuarkNet: http://quarknet.fnal.gov
Notre Dame QuarkNet: http://www.nd.edu/~quarknet

As this is the first summer in almost twenty-something years of teaching that I have not worked on various projects relating to school on my summers "off", my husband and I have scheduled a summer of travel! We just returned from a week in Sweden and Norway---what an unspoiled, beautiful part of the world! I plan to visit my daughter in Chicago, attend a conference in San Diego, at which my husband will present a paper, and have "sister-bonding" for two days at the beach with my only sibling, who has also worked far harder than most people I know. Then, my husband and I will drive up to Ontario, Canada, to attend the wedding of his first college roommate's son, which should be fun. Of course, I will deliciously travel the pages, too, of a stack of books that have been awaiting my attention---another one of those activities in which I get far too little time to indulge! I have no doubt already that all of this will make me an even better teacher when the end of August does finally arrive and school will start again!

I am spending my summer vacation splitting my time between three of my loves. First, I am participating in the Michigan State University's Red Cedar Writing Project, which is part of the National Writing Project. This experience has been an amazing one and I strongly encourage all of my profession to go out and find one of these sites and join up! I have learned so much to apply to my classroom and to myself as a member of this noble profession. In my "free" time, I split my time between the family business and working at a Learning Disability Clinic. I love working through the summer on myself and for others. I think just working in a different environment recharges me. I love gearing up for a new year by challenging myself to go further and truly reflect on my practice. Oh, and sometimes I go outside and just soak up the fabulous weather, of which we get so little here in Michigan.

I had a very enjoyable trip to Disney with my family for a week. Since then I have been working on curriculum for my county, on 2 committees, and working on a master's degree. I have only had one summer ever where I was not working on something for my school or furthering my education. I use the summer to do this because I work from 6:30am to 5:30pm or later every day of the week while teaching. I just can't fit classes into that schedule.
I do believe that furthering my education is important and have always looked for classes that would make me a better teacher. I am glad there is time in the summer to do this.
I also appreciate being able to take some time each day to spend leisurely with my son.

This is the first summer that I have not taught summer school. I decided to take more time for personal pursuits...reading, day trips with friends, spending time with my 20-month old niece. It has been nice. Of course, I fit this in with finishing my Master in Education (on line and in Saturday classes), organizing our church's Vacation Bible School, and revamping curriculum and developing a new high school elective class for the new school year. In an educator's world, we never really take a vacation from our work. Teaching is truly a vocation...it's a major part of our everyday lives, even in the summer!

I wrote a novel about high school -- over many summers off -- and am promoting it. It is blissfully different, and completely enjoyable, than waking up at 5:17 every morning and facing 1,400 surly, or comatose, teens in the middle of winter. My book is called PERMISSION SLIPS. I'm spending a lot of the summer smiling and laughing.

I wrote a novel (PERMISSION SLIPS) over the past several summers off. I'm spending this one promoting it. It is blissful to sleep past 5:17 a.m. and not be confronted by 1,400 high schoolers in the dead of winter.

"How has summer "break" changed in recent years?"

I'm a high school English teacher in Central Florida, with just under 5 years of experience under my belt thus far. Still, I have seen a slight change in how summer "break" has changed in my district/state, in that we are asked/required to spend the early weeks of summer disaggregating FCAT (Florida's standardized testing program) scores, evaluating school performance, and devising strategic plans for improvements -- all geared toward raising scores and working toward achieving the coveted "A" or "B" school grade.

At the request of my administration, I began my own summer "vacation" as a member of our school improvement committee (referred to in Florida as the Pace Team), attending a week-long workshop with my administrators and a few other teachers representing our school. I then spent the second week of my summer "vacation" on campus, working with juniors and seniors in preparation for retaking the reading portion of Florida's standardized test - the FCAT.


"How are you spending this summer?"

Apart from the first two weeks spent on school improvement and FCAT tutoring - by the third week, I could finally say I was actually on "vacation" - and have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Florida Keys! Tomorrow, my husband and I leave for Biloxi, Mississippi, and when we return, I will spend the remaining weeks of summer vacation planning lessons, organizing my classroom for the new school year, and participating in ESOL training online.

"How will your summer activities carry over into your classroom in the fall?"

Believe it or not, the workshop (mentioned above) that I participated in early this summer was a real eye-opener for me. Even though most educators (myself included) feel that the nation's narrow focus on standardized testing and its results has put a damper on teaching (and on learning, for our students) -- this particular workshop zoomed in on what many of us have been saying all along...that teaching TO the test does NOT work. Instead of harping about basic test-related skills and remediation, we spent our time learning about--and experiencing for ourselves--fresh, invigorating approaches to bringing the excitement back into teaching and learning. It was a great experience for me, and I am confident that it will have a positive impact on my teaching/classes in the upcoming school year.

Naturally, the ESOL training (for my required 300-hour endorsement) and workshop will impact my classroom in a positive way; however, I feel that the time spent this summer NOT working on teaching, planning, and training will be equally effective in the upcoming school year. I believe that spending time away from school and anything related to it is an excellent way to reconnect with myself, my family, and my friends - and feel like a real individual again. Therefore, even spending an entire day in my pajamas - doing absolutely NOTHING at all - is time well spent.

"In your view, what's the most useful way for teachers to spend the summer?"

I do not think there is a one-size-fits-all Rx for how teachers should spend their summers. Some teachers HAVE to work summer jobs to make ends meet, and do not have the ability to take pleasure trips NOR attend workshops or seminars...and I think that's unfortunate. Still, reality is reality -- we can't all take trips, spend entire days in our PJ's, or participate in quality training. But in my opinion, no matter what the situation, ALL teachers should do whatever they can to reconnect with themselves and their families/friends during the summer...to feel like a real HUMAN BEING who has a life outside of the school and the classroom...and to enjoy their time off to the best of their ability. To me, this is the best way we can prepare for a new school year.

I have never considered teaching a nine month occupation. Since 1968 when I entered the profession until now, I have used every summer in some type of gainful employment that relates to the profession in some meaningful way. Currently, I continue to work in my department (voluntarily, but not as a volunteer worker) and I work for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a scoring director. In addition, to working, many summers I have taken university courses and/or workshops and seminars. I usually take a week or two for myself to become refreshed and renewed, so that I will be fresh when I return in the fall.

P.S. I'm surprised that so many out there do not have "access" to their classrooms over the summer. Unless you're in the middle of construction, a classroom move, switching departments, or a new teacher who has not yet been "assigned" a classroom, I can't think of a reason why anyone would not be allowed in their classrooms at any time they wish over the summer! I guess I can only speak for my district/school, but here, administrators, guidance counselors, office staff, etc. work over the summer, rotating their own personal vacation time so that "someone" is minding the school at all times. In other words, schools here are never "CLOSED" for the summer break. Therefore, as long as you aren't new or moving, teachers here always have access to their classrooms. In fact, I pop in from time to time to pick up my "school" mail, visit staff, etc., and there are always a few teachers in their rooms at any given time.

At the close of each school year, we are all required to turn in our classroom keys and clear all desk & counter space so that the custodians can give our rooms a thorough cleaning -- but most of us always request that we get our keys back after so that we CAN continue to use our classrooms anytime we wish. All we have to do is present our keys so that they can be accounted for, and they are signed right back out to us again. Perhaps if you ask your administrator(s) for your key back after returning it, you can do the same. :) GOOD LUCK!

I have never considered teaching a nine month occupation. Since 1968 when I entered the profession until now, I have used every summer in some type of gainful employment that relates to the profession in some meaningful way. Currently, I continue to work in my department (voluntarily, but not as a volunteer worker) and I work for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as a scoring director. In addition, to working, many summers I have taken university courses and/or workshops and seminars. I usually take a week or two for myself to become refreshed and renewed, so that I will be fresh when I return in the fall.

Teaching is a twelve month occupation. Since I started teaching in 1999, I have spent my summers continuing my education and providing learning opportunities for other teachers. Most of this summer is devoted to writing a dissertation for a doctorate in education; however, I did spend two weeks running science workshops for elementary and middle school teachers. One of these summers I am going to take some time off. Maybe next year…

In response to PAF above, teaching IS a 12-month occupation - without question. What I am saying is that there must be a 12-month salary schedule to go with.

I have seen many responses following my original one from July 13, 2005, and they are very interesting and informative, to say the least.

Politicians are ruining this profession (as well as other professions) with their surplus of manure, and their lack of rich soil. I can only reiterate what the Lord said about the leaders of His day: "Hypocrites, you strain at a gnat, but you'll swallow a camel." [Matt. 23:24]

Hats off to all of you hard-working and dedicated teachers out there! You deserve a lot more than you receive; however, the children make it all worth the energy!

We are traveling across the USA and Canada screening MISTAKEN IDENTITY - the first film and part of six, informing and educating mainstream populations to understand their next door neighbors. We invite teachers to screen the film this Fall in your classrooms, to commemorate the 4th anniversary of 9/11 as "A Celebration of Cultural Diversity in America." Contact:212-759-4568

I am using this summer break to complete the class portion of my Master's. All I have to do now is present my product during the fall semester and I am done!!!

I have also been taking other classes on connecting learners with subject matter to acquire more strategies for engaging students. In short, I have been a student this summer, instead of a teacher.

Loving it!!! :-)

If districts went to 4 season schools teachers would all have 12-month contracts like most workers and they would not be required to searching for "summer" jobs. With 25% of the students on vacation all the time districts would save enough to increase base pay by 20%, pay full benefits, pay down debt, eliminate portables, eliminate teacher shortages and stabilize local childcare.


I've been teaching 28 years. This is only the third summer where I did not have to work. Mind you, I am not going anywhere of significance either. We no longer have "the summer's off". In PA, we have to have 180 hours of classwork every 5 years. So there are classes to take. Crriculum to review. Professional journals to keep up with. Units to create/finish. So I do not really have my summers off. I can do these things in more comfortable clothing or out of my home, but I am still busy.

Summer should be spent in relaxation, reflection and monitor what I did that was effective and what I did that didn't work from the year before. Most of the time, I try to spend my summers with family, catching up on reading, and just taking a breather from the fast-pace that keeps teachers spinning all year long.

I keep a list of "Summer Plans" on my office desk that keeps growing and changing throughout the academic year. I think about what topics or ideas that I want to work on for writing articles books, books I want to read, and conferences I want to attend or present at and vacation when summer comes. I don't see my work stopping or less productive in the summer but more changing in activities and things that I do to support my teaching and research. My summer work directly impacts and influences my teaching and research thoughout the year. It seems to be a good time to reflect more deeply on what I have done all year and time to think and plan and be more creative in a more relaxed atmosphere. I am not bound by the clock to a specific class schedule but my own personal clock and time to get done what I need and want to do!

I'm a science teacher coach in SF. I recently completed a Chemistry of Life course to increase my science content knowledge and be able to better assist my teachers and students, particularly 5th grade teachers.

As a fellow of the San Francisco Education Fund's Leadership Institute, I'm currently working on an action-based research paper on the benefits of National Board Certification and the effect of incentives in teachers' enrollment in certification programs. I'm hoping to publish this paper in collaboration with a professor from a local university. I also wrote an op-ed article entitled "State Must Correct Its Record of Breaking Promises to Teachers," that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle last Monday, July 18th, 2005.

Today I met with some colleagues to plan professional development workshops in the Fall on how to integrate language arts and science strategies.

I was really dismayed when our superintendent, on her end of the year letter said many of us would be traveling or resting this summer and she never once acknowledged the fact that many of us try to improve our professional practice by attending courses. Twiddling your thumbs in the summer? What's that?

I am always amazed at how the summer affects my own personal learning curve. Thinking, reading, writing, reflecting, planning for improvement and more efficient ways in which to manage the paperwork: IEP's, progress reports, educational evaluations, etc. is always part of my plan. Maybe someday, I will achieve total time management mastery! I keep thinking of all the hours and energy I expend over the course of the school year to keep up with the paperwork - time that could better be spent working with my students to support them in their learning. I love my job - I love exploring better ways of doing it - and having time in the summer to reflect and plan is a welcome thing. While I was planning to become a teacher, my husband used to comment: "Teachers! Work 9 months of the year and get paid for a whole year!" He doesn't say that any longer - he sees that a teacher's day is not 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A huge bag of papers and projects to look at and carefully comment on - reports being prepared into the wee hours of each night; tears shed for students who live in terrible settings that I have to send them back to each day; no down time to really let go. I am trying to establish better boundaries between school life and personal life so that I can be more effective. I would adopt all of my students so that we could learn and grow together! Teaching is a wondrous lifestyle - it continually infuses me with a love for learning and sharing enthusiastic new ideas with students. As frustrated as I may become from time to time, I know that even though this is the hardest job I've ever undertaken (right up there with parenting), I am very fortunate to be in the classroom learning together with these young adults. Summer is a gift - I value it and use the time to become a better teacher. Coursework, travel, lesson planning, time spent with colleagues, READING! Since I push my students to read, I want to be able to discuss my reading along with them when we all return to the classroom in the fall. I'm modeling my expectations. Although I fear that summer is going to be a thing of the past for school districts, I plan to enjoy the remaining summers left. Year round schooling is approaching.

Wow - ok, so I don't feel so bad that I've been spending the summer at least THINKING about school-related work (if not *doing* it). Part of me is stressing that school is about to start (in 2.5 weeks!), and I should be planning *right now*! The other part of me is saying "relax, for you won't be able to do that after August 8". Yikes. ;-) As a 2nd year teacher, I look forward to seeing some familiar faces in the upcoming year - I also worry about "how can I make it better?" for my students and myself. My goal (besides planning exemplary lessons and assessments - hah!) is to learn to relax.

How do I spend my summer?? HA, HA! I spend it carefully planned out like the rest of the year! I spent 2 weeks in Mexico brushing up on my Spanish. I have then spent time with my family and have begun planning out my goals that I set for myself every year. I spent the last 2 summers on an online Masters program, which is the way to do it!! Especially when you have 3 kids and teach full time.
Teachers need time to reflect on the past year so they can refuel and get ready for another year. I have always found areas that need upgrading or updating even after 25 years of teaching!
I treasure my summers off, it keeps me sane and nourished each year!
Stephanie M. Boyles

What a summer it has been. My daughter was doing a semester abroad in London, so as soon as school was out I went to to join her there, and then we traveled to France, Spain and a wee bit of Italy. We got back home a few weeks before the bombings in London. Scary. Since I have been back, I created my own website on .Mac. I have been trying to catch up with my scrapbooks, especially for this last trip. I will be turning 50 this year, so I did a lot of soul-searching, on my trip and all year actually. I read a book called Soul Prints, and also Courage to Teach before I left, I realized after 15 years, that this is my calling, and it is largely because I feel so strongly about the mess we are in because of NCLB. It's a deadly disease, and I have to stay in teaching so that I can serve as a kind of buffer for my kids.

Having just finished my first year of teaching in an urban school district I find myself missing my students and wondering how they are doing. I chose not to teach this summer because I have kids that are off of school and need me. Maybe I am being selfish staying at home with my children but they are only young once and I need this time to get ready for another challenging year. I love my job teaching and wouldn't give it up for all the tea in China

What summer break? The only difference is not being in the classroom. Otherwise than that I am modifying, updating, researching, and reorganizing, lessons. I am finding alternate and new ways of teaching lessons that did not work out as well the last school year and researching Diffrentiated Learning. It is something I would like to implement in my class this school year.In addition, I am enrolled in graduate classes.

I think this has been the busiest summer. I choose not to work so that I could have a relaxing summer, but it has been anything but that. I began by taking a graduate course toward a master's in administration, this became the first of 3 this summer. I then attended a History Alive! workshop for a week. On top of grad courses I have also been taking a U.S. history course for teachers at a local university. In the fall I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in a smaller learning community pilot program, so the team has spent the summer preparing for that as well. Who ever said that teachers had summers off, obviously did not know any.

It has been my pleasure to teach vocal music in the high school for the past 23 years; however, the demands are great! At the end of the school year I have submitted 400+ extra hours in behalf of students and their artistic needs and activities. This includes the school musical, countless choir performances, Region and State festivals, a choir tour, before- and after-school rehearsals, etc., etc. This extra effort drains even the reserves in my emotional and physical self. I crave the summer for several reasons: 1) I need a change of scenery (the mountains work for me), 2) I need to spend more quality time with the wife and kids (traveling around the globe works for me), 3) I need to spend more qaulity time with other adults (have you noticed your speech patterns lately? are you sounding like your students?), 4)I need to "do my own thing" for a while (I am a person, too), 5) I need to fix up the house and yard (it seems to suffer the rest of the year), 6) I need to study up and refresh on the latest in my fields (there's so much to master), 7) I need to meditate and adjust my life goals and pursuits (this helps keep me sharp and focused), 8) I need to work out regularly in the gym and keep myself fit enough to endure another year's activities (fatigue and exhaustion got you down?), 9) I need to evaluate the successes and failures of the preceding year and make adjustments to my syllabi and curricula (change IS good), 10) and I need to remember what it is a good educator does to inspire and educate the struggling - yet very capable - young people of this world. Without the summer "vacation" time it would be difficult to return year after year without burning out - or at least becoming and ogre. Good educators must have time to refill the tanks at a personal level or run the risk of running out of gas. Running on empty - where will that take the students? Things haven't changed for me over the past years: I enjoy the summer "off". I enjoy teaching.

This is the first summer that I haven't traveled overseas in nearly five years. Instead I have rested this summer by reading for myself adult books for a change. I have gone swimming everyday working on getting exercise and a tan. I have done some sewing for myself and my grandchildren. I have cleaned out closets, cabinets and organized everything that I've put off for so long. I have worked on pampering my skin and hair and I have de-stressed. Now I'm ready to go back to school with a fresh start.

I am so tired of people saying to me, "So, you teachers get the summer off? How nice that must be."

What summer?! I am like the many of you that already responded in the chat room. I will by the summer's end taken two courses to enrich my knowledge of teaching for the next school year, one workshop, worked on curriculum, mentor a new teacher, and get ready to begin a new position in my school.

I am also trying to think ahead for my retirement in four years. That included a trip to North Carlonia to look for a community to retire to.

Who says summers must be fun for teachers and that teachers close to retirement just put their feet up on the desk? I do not think it is any of us. Have a great remaining summer to all of you. Relax.

I've really enjoyed reading the posts. It's great to hear what other teachers do with their summers. I am always so appreciative of the time I have off in the summer. This summer I am completing my Masters in Teacher Leadership. What a great experience. I can't wait to get back to school and continue to use what I have learned. I will also be traveling to visit my son in Mammoth Lakes, California. I will have an opportunity to go through Yosemite also, which I'm sure will be beautiful. I've also been spending much of my time reading for pleasure and renting lots of independent movies. I am lucky that I am able to get into my school in the summer and I have spent some time there too. I will meeting with a colleague/mentee to work on developing a partnership with the Restaurant Association. We have a culinary arts program in our school and we want to expand out resources. I am looking forward to that. I've also been getting together socially with my team memebers, playing Scrabble, eating, etc. The summer gives me the time to get ready to go back to the very hectic and challenging live of a teacher, that I really love.

life not live

I am a teacher in training. I am spending the summer taking one special education class in hopes of being certified by my state.

Meanwhile, I am trying to make ends meet and pay for classes by working two part-time jobs, doing free-lance writing and looking actively for a school-based position.

My fear is I will get a school position and then be too exhausted to fill it well.

Good luck to all who are spending their summers working hard at being better teachers.

I spent it packing to move to another area, and unpacking my apt., and my new room, and attedning 3 seminars. Now, pre planning has meet the parent on the first night! Wow, stressed, but "This too shall pass." Ideally, would have liked a few days just to rest!

My summers are spent differently each year. Some years I relax and stay home. Other years, I might work at a part-time job, other than with kids. I try to go on vacation each summer. This summer I attended the National Differentiation Conference in Las Vegas. It was a great conference and I would encourage anyone that is interested in this type of instruction to go to this conference.
I also am pursuing my Ph.D in curriculum and instruction and took an online class this summer.
I did alot of work around the house and did some "me" activities. I think it is really important that we renew ourselves professionally and personally. "All work and no play makes Jack and Jill dull boys and girls."

3 of the first 4 weeks were spent in trainings: Union Negotiations, CLAD1, and CLAD3. CLAD courses are university courses that address instruction for English Language Learners (LEPs).

I've also been reading up on education research and policy in order to get a better idea of what is happening in the political arena here in California. Artifacts are:

TEACHER QUALITY: (teachers are responsible for 3-18 percent of student test score changes; teacher effectiveness is more related to teacher experience and teacher salary than any other yet identified variable--the education level of a teacher and the teacher's score on a proficiency test are very poor indicators of teacher effectiveness; the negative consequences of NCLD--sanctions--are causing highly effective teachers to leave schools identified for improvement (hey, who wants to stay around for another consultant to change effective methods to less effective methods?).

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB) EFFECTS: (AYP accountability has a bias against districts with large low-income and minority populations, a bias against large districts, a bias against districts with a diverse population, and a bias against districts that start at a lower performance level;
also recent AYP changes "save" districts with larger White populations from sanctions but do not "save" districts serving minority and low-income populations.

AND the past president of American Educational Research Association--long time publisher of the book of educational research ethics--says that NCLB goals and assessment standards "are quite unrealistic, so much so, that they are apt to do more to demoralize educators than to inspire them." ...hmmm Reeaally?

NCLB sanctions have caused money to be diverted from minority schools,

NCLD has caused districts to substitute short-term plans for their previous long-term plans.

NCLB forces the growth of state bureaucracy and regulation.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS (ELLs) READING: Most ELLs can learn phonic in 2-3 years but need "far longer than 2 years" to read with comprehension. In California ELLs are tested in English and included in comparative samples after 1 year. Does any other state do this?

CLASS-SIZE REDUCTION: Despite what you may hear, class-size reduction is a very effective strategy with great benefits to students. There has been an extremely deceitful political response to class-size reduction in California led by conservatives. RAND Corp has made somewhat successful attacks. But even they have difficulty explaining away outstanding improvements on SAT9 tests from 1998-2002, which in general show students across levels from 2nd through 7th grade performing one grade level higher in math by 2002. In other words, the scores of 2nd graders in 2002 were the same as the scores of 3rd graders in 1998. This is true for each grade level 2-7. Could these improvements be related to class-size reduction that began in 1996? You betcha!

So, this is my summer. Well, inflation took away my trip to France so what else am I to do?

Summertime is a very busy time for me especially since I am a member of an Instructional Leadership Cohort at Western Connecticut State University's Doctoral program. Balancing school, courses, and family responsibiities during the school year is a challenge. During the summer that balancing act continues to be a focus since additional courses are on the schedule. I make a concerted effort to maintain that balance as well as making sure there is time to rest, relax, renew, and reflect. Before I know it, September is here.

I taught middle and high school science for 16 years and rarely took "summer vacation." This is radical, but better addresses students' needs regarding continuity of instruction and teachers' needs for intermittent professional time throughout the year.

Why not abandoning the agrarian calendar altogether, in favor of a trimester model?... 13 uninterrupted weeks on, 4 weeks off, repeating 3 times over 12 months. Courses would be taught in a 13 week session, and culminate with final grades. Teachers would work during intersessions would be for teachers to do planning, report writing, collaborative work, curriculum writing and professional development. They might be required to work only 2 sessions out of three per year, or with proportional salary increases, they might work all three sessions, and be allowed several weeks of vacation that can be used during intersessions at their discretion.

I have used my summer break to basically leisure around. I have taken a self study class on how to use the Internet more effectively with my students. My wife and I have painted our bedroom and put up new curtains.

Working at the youth center our church is starting when the school year begins has been another thing I've done. For 8 days I worked with elementary students at a culture camp preparing foods of different countries and regions of the U.S.

Working at school part days once in awhile cleaning and throwing things out took up some of my time also.

I have used my summer break to basically leisure around. I have taken a self study class on how to use the Internet more effectively with my students. My wife and I have painted our bedroom and put up new curtains.

Working at the youth center our church is starting when the school year begins has been another thing I've done. For 8 days I worked with elementary students at a culture camp preparing foods of different countries and regions of the U.S.

Because teachers work hard during the school year, they should spend their summers how they like. Sometimes I think that schools should operate on a different schedule. For example, they should have June and July and January off. I think students would do better year round with a schedule like this.

Working at school part days once in awhile cleaning and throwing things out took up some of my time also.

I spend my summer supplimenting my income...

Summer school...ran for 23 days for 4 hours a day paying pretty decent cashola.

With that getting done at the end of July and coaching starting the 2nd week of August...welp there goes my summer.

Summer is always a welcome time of year for me. I enjoy the time away from the devotion to the clock. However, I have spent every summer of my teaching career attending at least one workshop and/or continuing my eduation. This summer, I finished my masters, began my national board certification process, and attended an Advanced Placement Summer Institue. Of all of these enrichment activities, the APSI by the College Board was most invigorating and professionally inspiring. I came home and began reorganizing my methods right away.

I have also read 15 books on my summer list. Some of these books were not books I would ever teach, but several of my students are reading them, so I thought it would be a good idea to read them too in order to know what these kids are reading. The others are books recommended by other English teachers to better teach language skills to my students. I have not been disappointed in any book I have read and look forward to being able to more fully discuss the literature with my students.

All of this aside, no matter what the teacher's schedule, many of us never really leave school behind. I truly believe the heart of the teacher teaches year round whether in the classroom setting or not. Summer is just another season to reinvent who we are as professionals which for a teacher is who we are persoanlly. Some of us do it by sitting at the pool with a great novel, others by getting invovled in coaching a little league team. Whatever the case may be, without this "summer break" we might not be able to branch out to the many facets of our expertise.

With school beginning sooner and ending later, the 12 week summer "vacation" is a thing of the past for teachers. I teach at a middle school. During the summer, I have taught 4 weeks of summer school for regular education students, 4 weeks of extended school year services for special education students as well as 1 week of professional development training and a 3 credit graduate course. So, my summer break has been next to none. The time I have not been working, I have been working on my curriculum for the next school year. I think more public citizens need to be aware of everything teachers commit to and that "vacation" is history.

This year I am spending my summer meeting with a small group of teachers from several nearby school districts as we begin work on gaining National Board Certification. The group is being sponsored by a local University. Faculty from the University's education department are helping us navigate the Certification process, with the assistance of another local teacher who has recently completed her NB Certification. Often I spend my vacation "out of touch" from my teaching colleagues, but this summer I am enjoying the support from these fellow teachers.

I am spending this summer like most summers, working on improving my teaching in various ways as well as catching up on books that have finally come into paperback.

I've been involved in two major projects this summer: working on my Master's program -- I should be graduating in May -- and helping my best friend as she goes through cancer treatment. Fortunately, my graduate work is online and I am able to devote evenings to my classwork even as I spend my days shuttling my friend to radiation and chemotherapy appointments.

Now that the summer is drawing to a close, I am starting to set up my plan book and classroom for the coming school term. Our summer vacation is very short, especially in light of the amount of work which must be accomplished during our downtime.

I've spent this 5th summer as an educator engaged in teaching, completing my graduate studies and preparing for September. I earned my Master's in English education in June and as soon as the regular school year ended, I got started on planning the curriculum calender for the 2005-2006 school year. This involves aligning our school with the core curriculum, our student population and our school's mission. In addition, I teach summer school as a 6th grade english/math teacher.

Even though I've had a busy schedule, the best moments are spent reading books and newspapers. I'm always thinking, "Oh, my students would love this author," or "They'd get a kick out of this article in the New York Times." I collect alot of pieces to share with students and teachers.

The idea that teacher get "vacation" is just a fallacy further exacerbated by our salary during the summer. In other words, our pay is spread across the 12-months but when we work the 180 days of the regular school year, we've already earned that salary. So although we are paid during the summer, its not a "paid" vacation per se.

If we earned better wages, it would be great to use the summer to relax and travel like every other sector does during vacation time. However, many of us either work or attend classes to supplement our income in the short & long term.

Nonetheless, it is very important that teachers spend time planning for the following year and getting organized. Summer is also a great time for professional development which can have so many positive effects in the classroom during the year.


When a health crisis occured this past winter I decided that it was important to take more time for the "pursuit of happiness" and learn to enjoy all that life has to offer. As a teacher, the summer is a great time to relish the things that often go unnoticed during a busy school year. I did take a class, attend a workshop, worked on curriculum, prepared engaging lessons, and planned for School Improvement Initiatives but I also relaxed with family, spent time with friends, wrote letters, played in the garden, improved my golf game, started an exercise class, took lots of pictures with my new camera, and basked in the hot days and quiet nights of the season. I am ready for the new school year!

Let's see...I taught a prealgebra class at the local community college from May 15-July 21, taught the second session of HS summer school in a neighboring districtfor 4 weeks, geared up for my National Boards this coming year, reconnected with my 3 children still living at home (one has since moved out for college last week..yay!), did all of the house upkeep tasks that I don't have enough time to tackle during the year (painting, re-covering dining room chairs), knitted like a fiend, taught myself to crochet. Re-organized my plans for next year, reviewed material & textbooks for teaching my first AP course (stats) this coming year. Got one child through driver's ed & an accelerated course of Algebra II. Our first teacher workday for the coming year is tomorrow and I started teaching the fall term at the community college yesterday afternoon. Squeezing in 3 days at the beach this weekend, but my break's done! Have a great year!

I fully endorse the premise that in order to be effective, fully energized and passionate about our subject area during the school year, it is vital to relax during summer months.

My vacation started out by participating and catching up with family members through our annual family 4th of July reunion.

Looking for something different and "out of the box" I booked a week long trip out to California's Yosemite National Park. (lots of sightseeing, hiking, swimming and photography)

Summer is an excellent time to catch up on reading. Just completed my 6th novel. Purchased 3 more books just yesterday.

Over a long weekend my wife and I and our 2 golden retrievers headed north into the White Mountains of New Hampshire to to do some camping and hiking.

Spent quite a few days at the beach, reading, cooling off and working on my tan.

Tonight I'm attending the Neil Diamond concert in Boston.

OK, my batteries are now near fully charged and can once again start thinking about shaping and molding those minds of future America.

I will begin my fourth year of teaching next week. Thus far, I have not had a summer break. The first year I had credentialing classes in the summer. The second year, I had curriculum related classes to develop my knowledge of my instructional areas (worldwide medieval history and writing). This year, I needed money so I taught summer school (shudder). I also use the summer time period to develop instructional units. I like to teach using a wide range of materials and instructional methods. Summertime gives me an opportunity to build things like Samurai War (a classroom game), Castle Quest (a classroom game), and "Shudder!" (a unit on suspense and horror story writing). I need to have more units than I use, because if I do not have a choice of materials I become horrifically bored.

I tend to be a type A personality. If I am not working on something and learning something new, I am NOT happy. I even took my literature book to our family vacation at Disneyland last week so I could develop my "Slice of Life" short story unit. Next year, finances permitting, I would like to travel to Europe to further develop my medieval Europe unit. I recharge by learning something new, which is why I decided to start teaching in the first place.

Well, each summer, I take my children out of state to live with relatives, and don't see my husband until the first paycheck in October. Why? We were going hungry the one year we tried staying home. The pay just doesn't stretch a whole 12 months, and where we live in the vacation community desert, snowbirders abandon the area like a plague hit in the summer, so finding suitable work to cover expenses has been fruitless in our search so far. I dread the summers.

I just finished my third year teaching and this is the first summer I haven't had classes to attend or a part time job. I guess I’ve been in a bit of a quandary. I very much have felt this driving desire, which I've tried to ignore, to plan lessons and units for next year. It’s now been a little over one full week of being away from the classroom. At this point, I feel this inherent NEED to get my behind in gear and start planning for next year. It's almost like I'm in the twilight zone. I do want to read some fun books, yes, and do all those fun relaxing summer things like catch up with friends, travel, dabble in other interests, etc. but most of all, I want the next school year to go well. I want to be the best teacher I can be, and I know I have a long way to go.

In the past week, I’ve done a lot of fun, relaxing, refreshing things and have accomplished a lot. I've cleaned my apartment top to bottom, worked on decorating my apartment, dabbled in some art/collage projects, etc. I've spent quality time with friends and family, cuddled with my cats, done a lot of writing, helped my boyfriend in his yard, had lunch with friends, gone to the gym, read great books, seen great movies. I've tried very hard to stay away from thinking about teaching, even though it's all I can think about in the back of my mind.

I keep remembering what my mentor and good friend said, who has been teaching for 25+ years. She said it so emphatically: “Leave school at school. Don’t think about it during the summer. It will make you a better teacher, believe me.” Well, I’m sorry but I've come to realize that I really just don’t believe that. In the past two summers, when I spent the bulk of the time attending classes, reading books, writing down ideas, reflecting, attending professional development seminars, going to the library, and researching and planning units, it took a lot of time, but I LOVED every minute of it. And I think that’s how I have survived these past three years of teaching. It's what made me keep my head above water. No, I wasn’t always necessarily wonder woman, but there were times when I had some great moments in teaching. And that's why I've stuck with it. I think it comes back to having effectively planned. I think it made a big difference. I loved plugging in what we were going to do and when. I loved the confidence of beginning the school year with knowing what we were going to read and when, and what kinds of projects/papers the students (and their parents) could expect. Things didn't go perfect, but I can't imagine how much more difficult it would have been had I not done the simple planning that I did do.

When I am away from the classroom, and away from the students, I look at everything in a completely different, more centered perspective. Teaching and thinking about teaching is my passion. I think it's what wakes me up in the morning. It gives my life energy and excitement. Keeping myself from thinking about school or the next school year is going to be detrimental. It's like keeping me from what I love. Here is all this time- a full two months to plan, to get excited, to get motivated…on my own time. Tweaking, reflecting, planning. True rewards only come after working hard, after putting in the time and effort.
I’m planning for the next year because it’s necessary. It’s something I need to do. It’s something I owe my students. If I think I can walk in there next year with no new ideas, no new energy, no new insights, then I’m going to get exactly what I got this past year. No new growth. I need and want to spend the summer researching, reading, investigating and learning, learning learning. And growing. It’s okay to do this. It doesn’t mean I don't have any extra outside interests. I don’t have to feel guilty or like a workaholic for doing this. I know what works best for me, and planning for next year is what works for me. Yes, there will be plenty of time for camping, hiking, lounging by the beach and traveling and going to do fun things whenever I feel like it. But I have a year that needs to be planned and perfected. There is nothing wrong with wanting to use this time to be a better teacher. We’re not talking every single day 8 hours a day. Just spending some time plotting out that syllabus, plugging in the lesson plans, reading the pedagogy books, writing down ideas and reflections. This is hard work, but it’s hard work that I am crazy about.

I WANT to think about teaching. I can't stop thinking about teaching. It doesn’t make me a workaholic. It’s just the simple fact that it is my love. It’s my passion.

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • Meredith Newlin: I just finished my third year teaching and this is read more
  • Mrs. Vera: Well, each summer, I take my children out of state read more
  • C. Knoblaugh 7th Grade Core: I will begin my fourth year of teaching next week. read more
  • J Smith, Middle School Tech Ed: I fully endorse the premise that in order to be read more
  • C Rowland, HS Math Teacher: Let's see...I taught a prealgebra class at the local community read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

Pages