Saturday, August 01, 2009

Crap, it's August.

On behalf of all teachers, I'd like to officially say to all those folks who work outside of education and smugly pander to us with questions about what we're doing with all of our "free time" over "summer vacation": bite me.

Teachers -- real teachers -- work their butts off over the summer. By the time we get back, I'll have been to three ed conferences, written articles for three publications, taught an ed school class, written a handful of book chapters, and maintained the self-induced chaos of running a daily blog.

I'm hardly alone in this.

Real teachers bust their tail over the summer learning new skills (Knaus -- motorcycling counts; how's that gone?), reading up on both ed policy and changing content area knowledge, partaking in online professional development, taking recertificaton courses, writing curriculum for their schools and programs, and helping out with summer school and tutoring students.

Real teachers don't take a three-month "vacation". Most of us wouldn't be able to afford to even if we wanted to.

Real teachers spend the summer learning how to make your kid's experience in school more productive, authentic, and engaging.

Real teachers are teachers 24/7 and 365.

So enough with the "summer vacation" business.


Oh crap. It's August, isn't it?

I gotta get to the beach.


  1. Yeah I agree with you. Its amazing how people think we are all of on vacation somewhere. Real teachers are always teaching. I admit it takes me about a week or so to decompress but this year the week we got out I went to NECC in DC. Why? To get new ideas for technology in our district, I even convinced my boss the Director of Technology to come along as well. Then the next week I started my part time job at Rutgers teaching computers to Summer Camp. I work till a week before school starts then we are gonna head tot he shore for a week. All summer I brush up on my skills in technology try new things, read blogs, tweet, etc. to better myself for the fall. Id there is a worthwhile workshop, I get to it and I practice everything I learned at summer camp for the fall, like the lesson I did online today for Photoshop.

    Here in NJ we get a week off in November for the teachers convention. Except we do workshops for 3 days which I conduct and the have the next 2 off to go to the convention. And I hear it all the time we have too many days off, we don't work a full day (i guess I don't lesson plan) we get paid too much (to teach your kids!!!!!).

    Yeah I don't like the comments, and when I hear people say people would do this job for 1/2 the money, I tell them when wear a tie cause Monday you are gonna sub for me. That usually shuts them up or they reply well thats the job you chose, blah, blah, blah!!! Do you think these people realize I see there children more than they do?

    Sorry long rambled rant, but I have an Aunt (thru marriage) who complains about us and our union every year at get togethers.

  2. Excellent post! As soon as my school year ended, I started a notebook of all my ideas for next year, and even from the USA (I'm an American teaching in a French college) I've been following all of my work emails and students on foreign internships daily, weekends included.

  3. Oh thank you. I thought there was something horribly wrong with me... like I have no life whatsoever. This IS all I do. Search the web for new stuff, read/write blog posts, take online courses (this summer its dreamweaver and a little flash) and seminars. Redo my presentation materials because I now know how much my powerpoints stink, on and on... I don't get the sense, however, that I'm in the majority.

  4. As usual, spot on! Well written. And I appreciate the mention. The Learn Teach Tech blog has a little baby brother: The chronicles of a beginning "biker." Enjoy.

  5. Amen! I was just thinking this morning, as I sat in on Classroom 2.0 LIVE for an hour, I have been like the proverbial squirrel this summer. Gathering a storehouse of nuts to use as the school year approaches. And yet, all this PLN business is so refreshing and rejuvenating, isn't it? But, alas, I guess I'd better work on the tan as well. Wouldn't want to disappoint the public in their view of teachers spending weeks on the beach while they toil! : )

  6. True, "real teachers" are professionals who work all week long, year-around. The problem is that we don't have enough "real teachers" and there are plenty in our profession for all the wrong reasons. It's those "teachers" that give you and everyone else a bad name.

  7. As tweeted, while I agree with your intent, the phrase "real teacher" reminds me too much of the "No True Scotsman" logical fallacy. Unfortunatley there are many teachers who really DO just goof off all summer long, and they are still teachers.

  8. If you are a real teacher you will throw away the teacher's manuals and test blanks that come with the school assigned textbook. You will put all of the textbooks, including your own on the back shelf and never open them because there is nothing in any of them that cant be found on the internet, mistakes and all.

    You will refuse to use the copy machine ever again. You will unplug the scan-tron machine, and if you are really radical sabatage it as well as the copy machine. You will write a blog chronicling everything that happens in your learning enviornment; you will re-create anew every subject you teach to reflect the students who are in it. Nothing will be standardized. You will never give an assessment that you gave last year.

    You will spend a significant amount of time and effort learning who the students in your learning environment are and what their interests are. You won't create goals for the group but, in conjunction with each student. create learning goals for each and every student. You will figure out a way to connect the ideas of the class to each student's interest.

    You will assess from zero to 100 rather than go backwards from 100. Failure will become a learning experience rather than a mark of dishonor.

    You will never worry about finishing the curriculum.

    It is not easy, and you will fail in many of your efforts. But your students will become real learners. And they will appreciate your efforts in ways that cannot be measured.


    This summer my 'vacation' has been spent helping a former professor rewrite chapters in her textbook, attending High Schools That Work SREB conference, participating in interviews and meetings, developing my PLN on Twitter, trying to figure out how to have more than one twitter account (personal/professional and classroom), building my Diigo and Linkedin networks and bookmarks, practicing Glogster, beginning a website, preping for the new TN diploma project, new state standards ... and now its August ... already. Where did June and July go????

  10. but....and I will say this quietly...I don't know a single other teacher who does what you wrote about...

    So while I can talk about myself staying up to midnight on a Saturday in August doing research and writing, I find it hard to say all teachers, or most, or many, or even it.

    So I end up with just coming back with you're right, it is so easy. Why don't you get your certification and spend next summer with me on the beach ;)

  11. I think teachers all over the world can relate to this sentiment, regardless of whether their school year begins in September or April (as it does here in Japan) or a different time. I do a bit of teacher training from time to time.

    When I presented in Peru, teachers drove from the rainforest (on their own time and money). When I presented in Thailand, they travelled for 2 days to attend, again, paying transportation and lodging out of their modest salaries.

    Why? Because they take their profession seriously and want to become better at what they do.

    Of course, that doesn't stop the "oh, crap" feeling that comes after realizing it's 3 am, the lesson tools STILL aren't working right, or that you've come to the end of your vacation without really having had one.

    Balance is a good thing :-)

  12. If it's any consolation, a lot of IT people get a similar question from teachers even though we are 12 month employees: "So what do you do when things slow down over the summer?"When I show them the list of projects on my 4x8 whiteboard, a stunned silence follows. My IT team and I just had the "oh, crap it's August" experience Friday. There is so much yet to do.

    I hear you 18 years of teaching, I think I took three summers "off." The rest were spent hustling up multiple part time jobs, doing the classroom cleaning and upkeep that the school couldn't figure out how to get done, and improving my skills and output for the coming year's kids.

  13. As someone who finds ways to work on academic pursuits pretty much the entire summer, I was in full-on agreement with your words here until I hot Paul's commentary. That slapped some good sense across my face right quick. I'm sure things are different wherever you go. Some of use are blessed to work in an environment where there are a solid pool of others fighting the "good fight" as intensely as you are. However, I have been involved with departments/schools/etc. where I felt like more of a lone wolf.

    So yeah- I think there might just be reason for all of those "summer break" suppositions. Really... all it likely takes is to personally know one teacher who truly turns it all off and sits my the pool for three months. If that is your contact with the world of education, then you likely jump to the conclusion that this is similar for all educators.

    But yes... the surprise lilies sprung up here last week. Those mini explosions of pink petals have always signaled the rapid end to summer for me. This year, it really was probably the toughest ever. I got less time this summer to actually put everything away and recharge. Too many new projects to start, etc.

    I'm curious about your book chapters. I have recently started down that path for the first time myself. It's all new to me and I'm a bit apprehensive. We should chat about that sometime.

    And hey- anyone who says "bite me" on a blog read by so many folks gets an instant follower in ME.


  14. I have actual proof that there are thousands of teachers working diligently throughout the summer. I work for PBS TeacherLine and we provide online professional development courses to PK-12 educators. Currently, our summer 2009 term is the highest enrollment we have had in our national courses during the past 5 years...over 2,500 teachers are taking 6- and 10-week long courses that are rigorous and worth 2-3 CEUs and/or graduate credits. So there is absolute proof to back up your claim.

    And I agree, as an ex-teacher, and as a husband of a teacher....yeah....bite me works really well as a repsonse to that "summer vacation" "free time". ;)


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