It’s the last day of school, and the bell is about to ring. The students in your classroom can barely contain their excitement and they’re probably begging you to let them go “just one minute early”.
Part of you wants to set them free so you can sit down and close your eyes for half a second to enjoy the feeling. But there’s also that other part–the part that wants to trap them in your room forever because next year they’ll move on to other classes and they won’t be yours.
Then that sweet moment is gone, the bell rings, and chaos ensues. Everyone screams, runs out of the room, and you follow, but just to observe from the doorway. As you look across the hall, you make eye contact with the neighboring classroom teacher and you both exhale a sigh of relief.
It’s here–summer break.
But how much of a break do teachers actually get? If a student asks what your plans are for the summer do you say, “well I’m going on 3 vacations and spending the rest of my time binge-watching Netflix”? Probably not. You didn’t decide to become a teacher just so you’d have summers off, right?
Here are 13 things teachers actually do during the summer.
1. Read (on the beach if you’re lucky)
Teachers spend a lot of time reading during the summer. Sure, books can be very different from one another. But chances are pretty good that you’ll encounter a bit of pedagogy, new curriculum, updates to standards, and maybe a novel or two tossed in for good measure.
2. Teach summer school
Let’s be real, teachers don’t make a ton of money. Many choose to teach summer school during their break to earn a few extra dollars. Others, for whom money is not a motivating factor, choose to teach summer school because that’s what they do. They help students learn, and those who take summer school are usually the most in need.
3. Be a student
Summer break is a great time to be a student yourself. Whether you’re just collecting continuing education units (CEUs) or are working towards your Master’s, when are you going to have more time to devote to your own studies than summer break? When else can you read a textbook on the beach? Consider it multitasking at its finest.
4. Lesson planning
You might have the summer off, but that doesn’t mean you won’t spend countless hours updating or creating new lesson plans. That’s the beauty of education, what we know is always changing, so there’s always something new to teach or a new way to teach it.
5. Professional development
Yes, much of the PD surrounding education takes place during the summer, simply because that’s when most people have free time. Funny how that works isn’t it? Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting in a conference room for a few days during your “break” time.
6. Department and district meetings
As I just said, teachers have “free time” during the summer, so that’s when it’s easiest to schedule meetings with your department or within the district to discuss changes for the coming school year. Teachers within a grade level or subject area need to be on the same page, so be prepared for collaboration time during the summer.
7. Odd jobs
Many teachers have odd jobs during the summer. Some tutor, others nanny, do photography, or teach drivers ed. Again, sometimes money is what drives them to find another job, but for others, it’s a way to keep busy and get out of the house.
Surprise! Sports don’t end on the last day of school. Baseball and softball carry on throughout the summer. Other sports have camps and weight training during the summer. If you’re a coach you may not actually be able to get away from your students at all during break.
Volunteering is a great way to spend your summer. As an added bonus, you could spend time overseas on service trips or teaching children how to speak English. It’s like a vacation where you still get to spend time doing what you love–working with kids.
10. Updating supply stockpiles
Teachers spend a lot of their own money on school supplies for their students and classroom. Expo markers aren’t cheap and not everyone can afford to purchase the 5 folders, 5 notebooks, 2 boxes of Kleenex, markers, pencils, and the occasional calculator. Nearly every teacher I’ve ever met has a cupboard full of school supplies, and most of them are bought during the summer when there are big back-to-school sales.
11. Decorating and organizing their classroom
During the typical school year, a teacher spends 180 days in class with their students. You can imagine how easy it would be for things to get moved around, and then need to be reorganized later on. And it’s your space. You spend 8 hours in that room every day and the tone of the room can have an impact on how well the students learn.
Teachers spend quite a bit of time in their own classrooms during the summer moving things around, redecorating, and updating the feel of their room. Fortunately, this part can be kind of fun.
Teachers must have time to recharge during the summer. For some, this comes in the form of a highly motivating professional development conference. For others, it means taking a week off to actually go on vacation. Everyone relaxes and recharges differently, but it is imperative that it happens during the summer. You need to be refreshed and ready to go as soon as those doors open in the fall.
Yes, you read that right, sleep. You shouldn’t be up all night grading papers, and naps are glorious things. Take care of yourself so you’re ready to go on Day 1.