A few years ago I had a student ask me, “So what do you do in the summer?” She wasn’t being rude. She just wondered what occupied my time when I wasn’t teaching kids like her. So here is my top ten list of what teachers really do on their summers off.
- Take classes. Many teachers spend their summers being students. In addition to making us better teachers because of the knowledge we gain, we become better teachers through being students. We are reminded what it is like to have a great instructor as well as what having a poor instructor feels like.
- Catch up on family time. There is a Facebook blog written by a mom who is ready for school to start because she is tired of having to be in charge of her own children. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments I am overwhelmed by the four rambunctious boys in my house, but spending time with them is often put aside during the school year to make time for other people’s kids.
- “Spring cleaning.” Most people purge, organize and deep clean in the spring. However, anything that is going to get accomplished happens in my summer. This summer I cleaned our storeroom, moved the playroom to the basement, cleaned out a garage (that I hope won’t fall on my house before I get next summer to tear it down) and created a pantry.
- Try new things. In March, we found out Boy #3 is highly allergic to gluten and corn. We didn’t try anything until school was out. Since then, I have become a gluten-free expert. We have gone to taste testing days, consulted with a dietician, and tried at least a million recipes.
- Work in our classrooms. At the end of the year, it seems all of those extra papers get thrown in a pile to be filed later. That “later” is summer break. We also develop new units, find better projects and teaching methods, and rework tests and quizzes we will use during the year. Sometimes we have to develop new curriculum for new classes we are going to teach.
- Visit with friends. My true friends know that I’m not being rude during the school year when I don’t call or stop by. It is nice to be able to have adult conversation with those friends who are patient enough to wait until my summer break.
- Organize for the school year. I have a list of 31 crock pot recipes to freeze. That is my agenda for this last week before I have to report to school. Although I know we will eat frozen pizza, cold cereal, and lunch meat sandwiches some nights, I want to have an arsenal to be able to keep that kind of meal to a minimum.
- Teaching is exhausting! Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for sympathy as I know I chose this profession. I’m sure it is possible to teach without enthusiasm and energy, but that’s not the way I roll. Every day, every class period, I want my students to be engaged and learning in fun and creative ways. This takes an incredible amount of energy (and a lot of coffee). Summers allow me to be in the background and let others be in charge.
- I have spent over 50 hours volunteering this summer. Most of what I have done is with 4-H, but I know many teachers who coach baseball or softball, work at the local food pantry, or volunteer at church. Who better to ask to do something for free than ,a teacher who has sooooo much extra time on her hands during the summer.
- Not looking perfect. This might seem strange, but I love being able to skip a day of showering or wear my old grubby clothes without doing my make up or hair. I have a tough audience—high school students. The girls notice what I wear, how my hair looks, and if my make up is just right. So if you see me at the grocery store during July and wonder if I have showered yet, the answer is probably no!
I have mixed emotions when the locusts remind me that school is around the corner. I love my job—it’s the best profession in the world, at least for me! I do wish I had gotten more projects accomplished, visited more with my friends, and spent more time with my own kids. So when you ask me if I’m ready for school, please know that the pause before my answer doesn’t mean I’m not excited, I just miss all of the things that I, as a teacher, get to do in the summer.