I have people who are upset with me right now, giving me the side-eye whenever they see me. What is it that I have done to make people so upset with me? It’s all because I am a teacher and I am off for the summer and I keep posting pictures of my legs crossed, a book in my hand, and a cup of coffee at my side. No worries. No schedules. No concerns.
I’m sorry, but I am not sorry. I’m sorry that not everyone can have a job where they get two months off and, thanks to year-round pay, still get paid for it. However, I am not sorry because this is a well-deserved break. I won’t go into all of the details of what a teacher has to do during the year. However, I wanted to give some insight into what most teachers actually do during the summer.
*Disclaimer: Please excuse my grammar in this post. It’s not a dissertation, just some fun, so please don’t judge me.*
Here’s a list in no particular order:
#1 – One thing that I know I do plenty of during the summer is reflect on the previous school year. What did I do right? What did I do wrong? What can I do better? How did I actually survive that one class period that made me want to quit every single day? Will THAT child be in my class again next year? Why did I become a teacher? Is there time for me to get another degree over the summer? Do I really have to do this again next year? Then something clicks in my brain. Wait…I have two months off. Two full months. Two months. Then I come back to my senses and I say, “I think I’ll stick with this teaching thing after all.” Got to take the good with the bad.
#2 -Believe it or not, we actually start planning for the next school year. Wait, did you really believe all of that teacher magic could really happen with us coming back only ONE week before the students do? Noooooo!!!! Most teachers have already started filling their Pinterest boards with classroom decor and ideas for the new year. Some are attending summer trainings in order to learn new strategies (oh, and for a much needed stipend). And all are praying that this year will be the year of perfect lessons, no unnecessary meetings, and perfectly behaved students. Hey, we can dream. To tell you the truth, we know that the first week back to work for teachers is actually filled with meetings, meetings, and more meetings, so there is NO real time to plan in our rooms.
#3 – Our houses get cleaned! Not to say that we have sloppy, dirty houses, but there is no time during the school year to do any deep cleaning. By the time you get home from all of the teaching,meeting, planning, grading, copying, and after school activities, you’re exhausted. The weekends are used for trying to do EVERYTHING you could not do during the week including having fun. Or it’s spent in complete exhaustion with you barely being able to move from one spot. Inevitably, nothing ends up actually completed and before you know it, you’re back at Monday. So the summer serves as the perfect time to finally declutter and get your house clean enough for company.
#4 – This is one of my favorites. I go to restaurants with friends and eat S…L…O…W…L…Y. If you’ve ever been to a teacher’s lounge during lunch time, you’ll understand what I mean. Our “thirty minute” lunches are anything but that. By the time you line your class up, walk them to the cafeteria and get them to their correct table, walk to the teacher’s lounge, stand in line for a microwave, use the bathroom, make copies of that handout that you thought you had enough copies of, you have about 10 minutes to eat and talk before it’s time to rush back and pick up your class. During the summer, my friends and I have been known to spend 3 to 4 hours sitting and talking and eating at a restaurant, enjoying our meals like normal human beings, not contestants in a pie-eating contest. Oh yeah, we also use the bathroom whenever we want.
#5 – SLEEP. I don’t think there’s much that I need to say about this. During the year, our brains never seem to turn off, so even at night, when you’re supposed to be resting, you’re worried about the next day’s lesson, parent conference, meeting, etc. A full night’s rest is as elusive as Big Foot. So, yes, we sleep quite a bit during the summer.
#6 For those of us with kids, it’s a chance to really get to know your children. Imagine all of the things that I said we do during a typical school day and add to that school-aged children with all of their homework, sports, and activities, or a baby or toddler who still needs you to do everything for them. Daily life for teachers who are parents seems to be one huge checklist of things to do. The summer time actually gives you a chance to just sit with your child on a beach or by the pool or at the park with no worries and nowhere to be. You can actually have quality time with your child instead of yelling at him about the project that’s due in the morning that he hasn’t even started, the field trip form that seems to be missing, and the cookies he’s supposed to bring for the class party tomorrow. Nope. Just good old times with the little people that you share your life with and love with all your heart.
#7 – We also get away and travel. Some of us save all school year in order to be able to afford a trip to somewhere, anywhere, so that we can forget about all of the drama of the school year. Check your Facebook timeline and your Instagram accounts. I can guarantee that you’ll see family vacation photos from most teachers, weekend getaways and cruises, pictures with Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, anything that takes them far away from reality for just a little while.
#8 – This one makes me sad because, unfortunately, some teachers actually have to work a summer job. First, not everyone has the option of getting paid during the summer, and there is no way for them to survive without a check. So instead of sitting back and enjoying their summer, they are working hard. Some even have to work with kids during the summer (summer school, summer camp, tutoring). Oh, the horror! Second, most teachers already have one or two other side hustles throughout the school year, and the summer doesn’t change that. Even with a check coming in during the summer, most of us still have to put in some time with another place of employment in order to make ends meet. It’s sad, but it’s true. It’s the realization of being a teacher in America.
#9 – This is what most people think we do and for some days during the summer, it is true. We do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I know that I have my days where I get up and don’t want to go anywhere. I might not even brush my teeth. I just want to sit around in my PJs all day and watch some TV or sit on my porch and watch cars pass by. I avoid calendars, clocks, to-do lists, and any responsibilities. Thank God for TV, video games, cereal, and sandwiches because my children are on their own on those days.
#10 – All of these things contribute to the best thing about teachers having the summer off. We get recharged, energized, and excited about the new school year. After two months, we come back to our classrooms like brand new, first-year teachers, optimistic about all that we believe we will accomplish in our classrooms that year. We’re reminded why we started teaching in the first place and we believe that we will change the world. We actually get excited about a new school year because there’s something refreshing about having the opportunity to do something bigger and better year after year. Most teachers know that each year they become stronger, more confident, and knowledgeable educators. Two months away from anything can make you feel this way. Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder (and a bit forgetful).
So there you have it. If you’ve ever wondered what the heck teachers do with all of that free time, I hope this helps clears up some of the misconceptions. My fellow teachers, please add anything that you feel that I have missed. Leave your ideas in the comment section.
And now I’m off to get some rest or read a book or clean my house…