Anyone Who Thinks Teachers Don’t Do Anything During the Summer, is Just Plain Silly!

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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. Susan Riley says:

    Ha! You’re totally spot on. As someone who currently works 12 months and is an educator, I can tell you that’s not true. And as someone who was a 10 month “traditional” teacher for 9 years of her life, I can testify to taking more classes, professional development, and just plain working during those short summer months. There was one summer that I was planning my wedding, taking 4 graduate classes for my masters and working a part-time job.

    I hate it when I read comments in the local newspapers that say teachers get paid too much and are lazy because they get their summers “off”. First of all, we are paid a salary that is based on 10 months – not 12. We are paid for the time we work – we’re not collecting a paycheck in the summer and not doing anything. Secondly, we are one of the only professions where it is almost mandatory to have an advanced degree. So there’s more expense and time that we need to add to our already busy days. Third, I know of no teacher that takes an entire summer off without doing anything for their own mental, emotional, physical or professional growth. We’re using our summers to be the best we can possibly be for those little darlings that come to us with such anticipation and promise in September!

  2. Susan, you are so right. The thing I’d like to point out is that we teachers are, dare I say, happy to do this summer work. I’ve enjoyed doing curriculum work with my colleagues and I know of so many who have chosen to work on grants, etc. Others have committed to doing that course work you mentioned. And even those who choose not to do organised work are thinking and preparing lot for the following year. Let’s face it, we love what we do and we keep busy doing it!

  3. Sally DeCost says:

    Great post! I couldn’t have said it better myself! I know I’ve been working all summer! I wouldn’t be ready for fall if I didn’t!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  4. Amy Mitchell says:

    No truer words were ever spoken! And with teaching there never truly is “time off”. It is 365 days a year of thought, planning, working, preparing, etc. I love being in a profession where everyone is as passionate about their vocation as I am and work during the summer months to plan the best possible experience for all children for the following school year. I agree Elizabeth – we truly love what we do and are constantly busy doing it!

  5. Summer? Where did the month of July go? As a classroom teacher, my summers were times for me to do more learning, both formal and informal, so that I would be better prepared to facilitate learning for the students in my class the next year. I had to make myself limit the number of times I went to the bookstore and how much time/money I spent! I loved having that time to get out my art supplies and make things for lessons, centers, and learning experiences so I would have things prepared.

    Now that I am a 12 month employee who helps teachers learn, summers are the time when we plan mini-conferences, in-depth trainings, and opportunities for the conversations we don’t get to have with teachers during the school year. Teachers don’t get paid to come to these things in the summer, but they come out of a desire to do better for the children in their classes. We just did an intensive 2 day conference for teachers and had over 200 teachers come just because they wanted to learn how to use the things in the classroom better … in order to help students. We followed that conference with another 2 day conference and had a different 100 teachers come by choice.

    Teachers may have the summer away from students, but planning/learning more effective ways to help students is something we never get away from!

    • Cathy Brophy says:

      Melissa, I totally agree with you! This is so true- summer is THE time for teacher learning. Now that I am no longer working in k-12 edu, I have to acknowledge that teachers, all year, work harder than anybody I know .

      Perhaps it is because teachers I know and have known are lifelong learners-continually reflecting upon and trying to improve their craft.
      My wondering is this: are teachers naturally inclined to continue their learning any time, any place? Is it that disposition that drives them to share their love of learning with others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

  6. Lori Cotter says:

    Melissa, you are so right, and thanks, Liz for bringing this subject up. Summer for educators is a time to refresh, renew, and increase our own learning and awareness for the coming year. Many teachers who are just starting out are working summer jobs to make ends meet. Others have signed up for courses, workshops and curriculum work. We have teachers who meet regularly on committees. Some enjoy volunteering their time. Our summers are not “off days,” but continuous work towards the next year.Where has my summer gone? I read all three Hunger Games books, so that I can keep up with students. I also just finished ” The Art and Science of Teaching” by Robert Marzano, a statistical approach to learning what works in classroom management and professional development. My spare time? We are a host family for two baseball players from the Dominican Republic who play baseball in a local Futures Collegiate League with our son. I am cooking meals, packing lunches and doing laundry at all hours of the day, not to mention attending every game we can and traveling on the road with the team. Volunteering for this group is an experience of a lifetime. Oh yes, and I will be inspiring teachers with a workshop on storytelling, bringing back more of a lost art to today’s classroom. I believe that teachers are the hardest working people on the planet, and aim to set that example.

  7. Thanks for all the great comments. It just goes to show you how much we really do! I hope you are all enjoying your last weeks of summer. 🙂

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