The "Teachers Get Summers Off" Debate

SummerIt’s summer, and everyone knows that teachers get summers off. I was thinking about this while I was on my morning run.

My morning run. During the school year, I don’t have the time for a morning run, so this is definitely a major perk of the summer.

And I’m blogging. It’s a lot easier to find time to blog during the summer. I do have more free time, and I’m not coming home exhausted at the end of a long day.

So, do teachers really get summers off? I guess that depends on your definition of “off.” If you mean two months of relaxing, vacationing, and doing not much of anything, then, no, teachers don’t really get summers off. However, if you mean off in the sense that there is a break in the daily routine, time to reflect, recharge, and rejuvenate, then, yes, teachers definitely get summers off.

My typical summer consists of professional development, conferences, a science adventure, reflecting on the previous year, and planning for the upcoming year. I also spend my summers rebooting myself. I usually start the school year out heating pretty well and exercising pretty regularly. As the school year progresses, my schedule gets crazier, and I start to eat lazily and find less and less time for exercise. One of the best parts of summer is having time to get back on track with how I eat and how often I exercise. Having mornings to run, for instance, is priceless. During a Georgia summer, the mornings are the best time to run. Other times of the day are pretty much impossible!

A few years ago, I began summer adventures. My very first summer adventure was at Honeywell Space Academy for Educators in 2011 followed by going to Florida for the final launch of the space shuttle program, STS-135. That was a pretty amazing summer, and I wondered how I could possibly follow it up. But since then summers have included Advanced Space Academy for Educators and flying weightless with NASA. This year, I have two exciting adventures starting soon!

So what is the Summer of 2014 like for me? Here’s a quick overview:

  • Academy PBL Training
  • Engineering Software Training
  • Completed writing an online course for my district
  • Engineering and STEM professional development
  • Gwinnett Digital Learning Conference (both an attendee and a presenter)
  • ISTE 2014 – I am very excited about this as it’s my first ISTE experience, and we are presenting about our PBL program
  • Running the Peachtree Road Race
  • Creeks to Coast with Georgia Aquarium
  • Flight Experiments Workshop with Teachers in Space focused on launching a high altitude balloon

I LOVE having a full summer. Professional development experiences, conferences, and summer adventures help to refresh and recharge my teaching batteries. It is a blessing to have an open summer in order to fill it up with these amazing experiences.

Yes, I do have summers off. I have summers off from my classroom and interacting with students every day. I have summers off from scores of important emails that need immediate responses. I have summers off from wondering when I can sneak to the bathroom next. I have summers off from 12 hour days spent at school.

But I also have summers off from laughing with students every day. I have summers off from inspiring students to find their passions and discover the wonders of science. I have summers off from interacting and learning with my colleagues each day.

Having the summer off is a gift. It’s a gift of reenergizing, relaxing, and getting inspired. It’s a gift of time. It’s a gift of preparation, and I believe my summers help me be a better teacher. I am so thankful for summers off! (But I am looking forward to the start of school again in the “fall.”)