I get asked this question a lot in the summer. There is a very widely held popular perception that teachers spend their summers lounging by the pool sipping Mojitos and laughing at those fools who work 12 month jobs.
Well I’d like to just say a few words about that.
You see, teaching actually is a 12 month job. Just because a teacher is not standing in front of a group of students does not mean they are working. In fact, if I had to be honest I would say that being with children is about 50% of the work I do. So what do I do all summer?
- I read, I read a lot! Children’s literature, professional books, news about education, blogs about education, tweets about education, twits talking about education, and adult novels just for fun. If you’re going to use reader’s workshop you need to be a reader! The same goes for writing.
- I attend professional development. This year I have two grants going through two of the most respected groups in Chicago the Boundless Reader’s Fund and The Chicago Foundation for Education. These are not paid, although I do recieve grant money to buy supplies and books for my classroom.
- I do research and curriculum writing. Because we don’t use Basal readers or text books I am constantly revamping my curriculum to reflect current research and practices, new learning, and real life lessons learned in the classroom. This summer alone I will have redone my reading and writing curriculum maps for the year, written an entire new unit on digital literacy, revamped my inquiry units for Social Studies, and spent over 60 hours collaborating with collegues on designing an implementation plan for our one-to-one iPad initiative.
- I connect with the community. Which exhibits coming to the museum will make a great field trip? What resources are there that I can utilize? Are there any experts who can come to speak to the class?
- I go to school and work with various teams to plan professional development for the staff.
- I scour IKEA and Target for new items for my learning environment. Then when the time is right I go set it up and lament over attempting to keep my open library area while cramming 30 desks into my classroom.
- I blog. Enough said.
- I travel. While this might not seem like part of my job, actually it is. Because these life experiences inform my teaching, give me topics for my writer’s notebook, and help revive me after a long hard year of teaching my tushy off. Because if you are a teacher, were a teacher, are married to a teacher, or even know a teacher you know, that we actually never stop thinking about our class. Even the one we haven’t met yet. Heck, I once haggled in an Athenian market for twenty minutes over the price of 30 post cards with the Acropolis on them just so my students could have a little taste of our Ancient Greece unit to come.
- I go to the dog beach. This is really a metaphor for making up time to our families, friends, and pets whom we essentially have to shove aside during the school year. So yes, I go to the dog beach because it makes him happy, and he is one of my biggest supporters in times of stress. I owe to the old boy.
Is there more? Probably. So the next time someone asks me what I do all day while I’m “off” for the summer my response will be…
What didn’t I do today!?!