Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summers Off

My typical summer activity - reading books for my classroom, poolside. 
I read a Facebook status update this morning from Kylene Beers and it made me smile. She was preparing to go lead a two day professional development workshop in Colorado and then heading to Pennsylvania later in the week to lead some PD there. She mentioned that anyone who referred to teachers having the "summer off" should see the teachers in her sessions who have "taken on, rather than taking off." She went on to write about all that teachers typically do in a summer, their time "off." 

To be clear, I love summer vacation. Absolutely love it. Today I sit typing this on day seven of our summer break. That being said, it does get tiring when I have been told repeatedly over the last seven days (and every year I've been a teacher), "Oh, it must be so nice to have your entire summer off..."

It is nice to have it off, but for reasons I don't think that the kind people making that off-handed comment realize. I think the summers are when I am actually present in the rest of my life, not just in my classroom. My boys have a mom who is almost completely theirs. I am able to stop and think. I don't mind as much when they have friends over because I haven't been with 80 kids all day long. I am more relaxed, more rested, more everything.

In summer I can catch up on my reading. During the school year I might be lucky to read three books a week. During the summer I read a book a day, if not more. There will be professional reading mixed in, but by and large these are books for my classroom so that I can recommend books to my students all year long. This is the only way I know how to hook readers, know the books they need to read.

Summer is also my time to write: curriculum, unit plans, journal for me, blog posts, articles, and try my hand at writing a book. In this writing I become a stronger writer so I can better assist my students. I see where I can find lessons for them in my own writing and make note of that. During the school year, I write as well, but I never get the amount written that I can in the summer.

In summer I also attend conferences and writing retreats. All told this summer vacation I will be gone for nine days to workshops so I can learn even more as an educator. I look forward to these like small mini-vacations. I see friends at each one and I leave feeling reinvigorated and ready to teach. 

Summer break is a wonderful benefit of being an educator. I do love the time with my family. I find that I sleep more the first two weeks of break than I do the rest of the summer, my body is typically exhausted from the end of the year stress. But I also feel that summer break is necessary. I work a crazy amount of hours all year long, and yet never feel caught up. Summer is that catch up time. It is my time to get inspired for the next year. The time to read and write so that I can be the best reading and writing teacher to my students. And it is the time to catch my breath. 

So the next time you see a teacher this summer, maybe ask what they are doing with their summer break instead of mentioning how lucky they are to have that "time off." If you ask me, I will gladly share. You might even get a book recommendation or two out of it. 

Summer is here and I am greeting it with open arms.