summer, teachers

You Have the Summer Off, Really?

I know people mean well.  I know they think I am exhausted from dealing with students, demanding tests, and just the overall misery of being a teacher in America.  But they are wrong.  I am not exhausted, I have never just “dealt with” students or misery (dreadful tests – yes).  So when someone tells me that they survived the school year, I cringe, and when someone asks me how excited I am to have the summer “off” I stop and pause.  I am excited to spend more time with my family and do summer things, but excited about having off, no not really.

I don’t have the summer off.  I never have since deciding to be a teacher.  When I was going to college I would work extra hours and take summer classes.  Since getting my teaching job, I have taught summer school, taken classes and just kept my brain engaged.  And while many choices are voluntary, I do it with one big picture in mind; a better educational experience for my students.  This post is not to whine, I make the choices about my time, but it is meant to make people pause before they state that teachers have 3 months off and have it so easy.  So here is what I have been up to:

  • I blog almost daily to keep myself reflective and engaged.
  • I am getting ready to present twice at the Reform Symposium 3.  Once on student blogging and once with my great friend Matt on the connection and collaboration between our very different classrooms.
  • I have finished editing an upcoming article on the Global Read Aloud for ISTE’s magazine “Learning & Leading with Technology” to be published in November.
  • I have written a guest post for VolunteerSpot on what we wish we could tell parents but don’t.
  • I have finished doing a double blind review of a great book to be published by SolutionTree.
  • I have engaged in deep conversation about best practices and student blogging on an almost daily basis with individual educators looking to make a change.
  • I am preparing a weeklong professional development class I am teaching in my district in August on how to integrate technology into your classroom.
  • I have revamped my school’s old website and converted it to a blog.
  • I have changed my own classroom website from Tumblr to Blogger due to security issues.
  • I have worked on revamping the Global Read Aloud website to allow for author collaboration (email me to let me know if you want to be a collaborator).
  • I have cleaned my classroom and sorted all of my 4th grade curriculum to pass on to the new 4th grade teacher.
And that is all in the first week of vacation.  So while bettering myself is a choice and I may do more than other people I fit it into my daughter’s schedule and we make it work.  Next week when I leave for Denmark I have 3 books I am bringing with me all education related since I want to revamp my reading program.  So the next time someone feels the urge to tell teachers how lucky they are to have 3 months off, think about, maybe ask them instead what they plan on doing this summer.  The answer may surprise you.

6 thoughts on “You Have the Summer Off, Really?”

  1. This post is inspiring to me. I am a university student majoring in elementary education. I truly have a passion for the students and am motivated to provide them with the best learning environment possible. To do this I know there will be no "summers off" for me. Summers are a great time for teachers to better themselves and their curriculum. I thank you for being a role model for future and current teachers. For my development this summer, I have recently started my first blog and am working at a summer camp in New York. Thanks again for the inspiring post.

  2. Amen, Pernille! Your post is so true. I don't know anywhere where teachers/students truly have 3 months off anyway. That concept hasn't matched reality with my 12 years in guiding students. Summer is the best time to reflect and consider how an educator can improve their practice for the next year. Certainly, things can be changed during a school year, but deep reflection is hard to come by in the midst of a school year's activities. Thank you for pointing out how a great educator's job is never quite done.

  3. Mrs. Ripp is one passionate, dedicated teacher! I have been following her for a year or so. I have seen how exciting she is making learning for her students. You are an inspiration to teachers around the globe! Hey Pernille, do you think a 72 year person could register for your fourth grade class? I promise to be a model student. PS: Please take a little time for yourself during the summer. Everyone's batteries need some recharging from time to time.

  4. Reidun – Thank you so much for the blog link and the comment. I enjoyed reading your blog and would love to help you with anything I can. I see you are in Osh Kosh so we are in the same state. Asa new teacher, just don't forget to take some time for yourself, I worked 70 hours at least every week my first year and it was exhausting, now I have a better balance.Chris – Yes, this is my time for the big changes. Last year was where I came up with the Global read Aloud, revamped my philosophy and came up with a lot of projects. While I change things throghout the year, nothing beats the summer time for really working.Rich – You are such an amazing supporter and don't worry there is plenty of down time in there as well. You are welcome in my classroom any time, in fact, anyone is. What a distinct pleasure it would be to meet you.Jake – I am re-reading The Mosaic of Thought and "How to Reach and Teach All Children Through Balanced-Literacy" I will also be looking into books about boys in elementary, I worry about how my teaching style affects them.

  5. This post was very nicely written and it also contains many useful facts i enjoyed your way of writing this post thanks you have made it very easy for me to understand.

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