I am about two-thirds of the way through my summer break. Why do I have a summer break? Because I am a teacher. Yes, I am one of those people who get to have that awesome 2 or 3-month break that all other careers hate us for.
And I am not going to apologize for it. I am not going to make excuses to downplay my summer break. I am not going to tell you how awful it is. This is not one of those posts listing how I don’t really get a summer break, poor me.
Oh, I get a summer break.
It’s awesome. I applied for, was offered, and took a new teaching position (about the extent of my teacher work). I have spent lots of time with my kids. I have slept in and realized I don’t like sleeping in. I have gardened. I have gone to the water park. I’ve read books. I’ve written a little.
It’s been a pretty grand summer.
I’m sure there are teachers–awesome, talented teachers–who don’t get much of a summer break. They have their reasons. Perhaps they truly are given duties and responsibilities that zap the summer away from them. Perhaps summer is the most convenient time to take classes. Perhaps they are those super-teachers who won’t be happy if they’re not dabbling in something teacher-related.
I’m happy those don’t apply to me.
See, I don’t actually get paid for the summer because that’s not how my new contract works and it’s not how past contracts have worked. My contracts pretty much cover the school year. That is the time I am being paid for. I have my paycheck spread out over twelve months, but I’m not earning anything during those warmer months. So why should I work?
Yeah, you might say I should work because that’s what good teachers do. If I truly cared about the children, I would abandon my own offspring and husband and slave away all summer long, coming up with Pinterest-perfect classrooms and writing and rewriting curriculum, and pretty much humble-bragging about what a good teacher I am.
I think I’m a pretty good teacher. I have received pretty good evaluations and pretty good feedback. I know I’m not yet the greatest teacher ever. If becoming that means I don’t get any free time for myself and my family, then too bad. I’m not yet at a season of my life where I want to do that.
That isn’t to say teachers who don’t do a darn thing during the summers are bad teachers. I don’t think there’s a strong correlation between the two ideas. All that can really be said about a teacher forgetting about teaching during the summer is that he’s not working on teaching stuff. That’s it. A teacher who has dropped the teaching mantle for a few months is merely focusing on other aspects of a balanced life.
We teachers who don’t toil endlessly in our classrooms during the summer are merely looking at the rest of the world and our lives. We’re enjoying ourselves. We are understanding there is more to life than teaching. We are relaxing. We are exploring. We are taking care of other relationships. We are taking care of ourselves. We are examining other interests. After all, what would we think of a student who focused only on one thing?
We don’t need to be shamed or told we don’t care about the children. If you want us to work during the summer, pay us. But I’d rather have my precious summer off.