'It's finally here, summer break!'

Its finally here, summer break!

A City Times reader talks about what the holidays mean to a teacher

By Sydney Michael Atkins

Published: Sat 15 Jul 2017, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Wed 26 Jul 2017, 10:25 AM

It's finally here, summer break! The thought of six weeks off for the summer conjures up images of teachers tanning on exotic beaches with refreshing beverages in one hand and a paperback in the other. While this can sometimes be true, summer can also be a busy time for teachers. Truth be told, the summer holiday very rarely involves a complete and well-planned severing from academic business.
In my line of work, I am often asked a very loaded question, 'What exactly do you do during your summer holiday?'  I sense the tone, I see it coming, there's a hint of wonder in the question but a generous helping of indignation too. How unfair it is that I am able to sleep in, while the rest of the world goes off to work! Usually, I grumble back at anyone who suggests this, and tell them that they are free to quit their jobs and join the teaching profession if they want more time off. Nobody does.
Don't get me wrong. As an educator, I am very grateful for the summer break. But it's not always what the world thinks it is. The holidays are really the best time to catch up on pending work, academic reading, planning and responding to all the emails from students that still pepper your inbox. Whether it is revamping the curriculum, planning lessons, constructing resource material, learning new EdTech solutions or continuing professional development tasks, the six weeks off suddenly begin to feel like a lot less. Being a teacher in the current educational climate can be both stimulating and stressful.
I have wondered why teachers continue to work during their time off and the answer, I realised, was really simple. Teachers are a rare breed. It doesn't matter where or how we are, our natural instinct is to do whatever it takes to ensure that we are well prepared to create the best opportunities for student learning.
Across the world, teachers might be the envy of their non-teaching friends. I am not playing the martyr on behalf of teachers; our profession does have some perks. All I am saying is that the idea of teachers in a sustained state of ennui is quite inaccurate. From my personal experience, I would say that most teachers enjoy their time off but they also use it to reflect, re-learn and renew their subjects and practices. And if you're like me, you will also find the time to binge watch Netflix.
Teachers don't just count down to the summer break because of the kind of work they do. They look forward to the holiday because they often use the time to get even better at teaching. While some days can feel like an Ella Fitzgerald kind of Summertime, others can be compared to a line from an Eddie Cochran song, "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues." Either way teachers are always teachers, even on their holidays, and they are fine with that!

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