The Year-Round Efforts of Educators
As the school year ends, a teacher’s behind-the-scenes work begins
Summer rolls around again. The last bell rings on the final day, and everyone in elementary and middle schools all over the country pours out of their classrooms to dive into their summer time off. Well, almost everyone. Much of our society assumes teachers work September to June, then lounge by the pool and binge-watch Netflix until autumn. But how do they really spend the summer?
A U.S. News &World Report article reminds us: “The myth that summer break affords teachers a restful, stress-free vacation has long plagued teachers.” The same article tells about when a group of elementary students were asked, “What do you think your teacher does over the summer?” One little boy answered, “In summer it’s always going to be Saturday, so she’s going to be at home working on her computer. And then she’s going to come back to school and teach us something else. “ That’s a pretty good guess. And it might not be far from the truth.
So, what do our beloved educators do all summer? Well, settle in––because the list of off-season activities is long for this year-round hardworking group of professionals. Here’s the top ten:
- PD: A survey by the Gates Foundation concluded that 1/3 of all U.S. teachers participate in intensive summer professional development training. They may earn CEUs (continuing education credits) and even do coursework toward a Master’s Degree in Education.
- Read, a lot: There’s even more to teachers being summer students themselves. They read about new teaching and testing methods, new educational technology and techniques. There are educational blogs and Twitter discussions. You might even catch them reading a textbook at the beach. They educate themselves all summer to make sure they are well equipped and better than before for the upcoming year.
- Teach summer school: Teachers love working with kids. So, many go find some more to work with during the summer. Students who come for summer help may need it the most, and they rely on the dedication of summer educators. Some educators travel abroad to teach English to kids in other countries.
- Plan for autumn: Teachers burn the midnight oil updating lesson plans and creating new ones. There are so many new things to teach, and new ways to teach them. Not to mention next year’s activities and projects. Cool science field trips take forethought.
- Go to department and district meetings: They get together with colleagues to talk about changes for the next school year. That’s when everyone who teaches the same grade level or subject gets a jumpstart on staying in sync in September.
- Coach summer sports: Summer means baseball, softball, and Ultimate Frisbee. And somebody who knows how is needed to coach the summer teams.
- Stock their classroom cupboards: Teachers often contribute their own resources to buy basic school supplies¬¬––like folders, notebooks, pencils, and markers.
- Rearrange their rooms: That can include decorating (in a farm theme, perhaps, with lots of animal posters?) And you can bet that moving a whole classroom full of furniture and teaching materials to another room is a big job.
- Refresh, recharge, and rest: It’s essential for our teachers. Recharging could mean taking an exciting, invigorating, and inspiring PD conference. Or, camping by a lake. Or, enjoying running into former students on the beach. Or, hanging out with friends, sharing snacks and talking about stuff. Or, relaxing on a secret island where there are no kids.
- Reflect and look ahead: Sometimes during the summer, teachers sit and reflect on wonderful memories of their students from the year that has ended. And they smile when they think of all the wonderful experiences ahead with the new group they’ll teach.