As a teacher, how many times have you heard, "Yeah, teachers have it easy. What other job do you know where you get the ENTIRE summer off?"
We all know that perception is incorrect. Teaching is intense, stressful and though the job is not 12-months, it might as well be with the number of additional hours after 3pm logged, time put in for extra curricular activities and other essential tasks.
If you teach and you're really doing your job, you've already put in a full year's work during the school year. Summer break is not a luxury- it is pure necessity. And it has been thoroughly earned.
Good teachers have high expectations not only for their students but for themselves too. They work hard and go way beyond the three Rs. While their schedule may look good on paper, much work is done after hours and in the summer. Here are 5 reasons why teachers need their summers off:
- Exemplary teachers believe they make a difference in their students’ lives. They make learning meaningful and relevant to the future. They have passion for their students, teaching, and for their content. Summer offers extended time for researching new ideas and strategies to keep next year’s students engaged.
- Many educators enhance their skills with professional development and graduate classes. According to the Department of Education, in year 2011–12, there were over 1.7 million teachers (about 45 percent of the teaching force) with 10 or fewer years of experience. Teachers with fewer years experience often take summer graduate courses in order to gain and/or maintain certification.
- People who pursue careers they view as “callings” may have higher rates of burnout. Many teachers view their career as a “calling.” Summers provide a reprieve from mental fatigue and help to maintain a devotion for teaching.
- Teachers realize their students need time off too. Children need extended time for play – to explore, experiment, imagine, and dream. Play is a child’s “job.” As Susan Daniels and Daniel Peters note in their book Raising Creative Kids, “No matter what form it takes, and no matter whether it produces a tangible product or not, the act of playing stimulates significant growth within a child’s brain. Elaborate mental processes and mental development often result from play. These include cognitive growth, growth of the child’s imagination, social development, and even physical development. As adults, our greatest gift to them is to provide them with time and space to explore their world with uninterrupted periods of complete immersion and with opportunities to expand their understanding through their own experiments, inventions, and creations.”
- In the summer, teachers can spend more time with colleagues. The best instructional resources for one another, educators connect to talk about children’s books, plan projects, share ideas, and take classes together. Interacting in a relaxed environment, free from time constraints, they inspire each other.
The idea that teachers work "short" days and have it easy because they don't have to work in the summer is one of the most common misconceptions about teachers out there.
As colleagues, we know the truth: summers are critical for teachers and students to recharge and reset so that the coming school year is even better than the last.