"A teacher affects eternity, he can never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brooks Adams

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Summer "Off"

     As I plan my Labor Day Weekend, I have been thinking back on my summer "off".  One of the constant criticisms that many "reformers" have of teachers is that we have "three months off". (To be clear, we do not get paid for the time we do not work).  Even though inaccurate , this is a moot point, because almost no teacher I know truly has the summer off.  Many teachers must work a summer job to make ends meet, and most of those that do not need to do this spend quite a bit of time in the summer preparing for the new school year.  For example, during my summer "off", I attended a four day meeting in Detroit, spent a week in Harrisburg at a training so my students can be part of a major art and literature program this year, attended a conference in New Jersey and did a training at School District Headquarters for the new RTII program. None of these conferences/trainings/meetings were paid. I say this not because I mind, just as a fact.  When I was not at conferences, I spent time studying the common core standards that are being implemented, researching and planning lessons, writing parent communications, and working (volunteering) at my school to help with registration. Yes, it was nice not to be on a rigid school schedule, but much work was still going on. Most of the teachers at my school (and many others) have been up at school working on getting classrooms ready before we are officially due back. We do this because it needs to be done before the start of school. One of my colleagues worked virtually the whole summer planning and implementing a vegetable garden in our school's inner courtyard.  Most of my colleagues, in my school, in my district, and nationwide, spent their summers in similar ways: gaining new skills and knowledge, networking with other educators, and generally working to improve their craft. None of this is unusual, it is just par for the course, and no teacher I know wants to be lauded for this. But, I think what we do want is the simple recognition that we are professionals, and that we act as such:  working in our "off" time for the benefit of our students, schools, and our profession.