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I Don’t Really Have the Summer Off

by Neil Finney

summerAs a teacher, there is no way that you have escaped this conversation with someone. The public loves to remind us how sweet it is that we have the “summer off” to relax and enjoy the weather. Some claim this unfair, others deem it earned – I argue that it simply isn’t so for many of us.

While the School Year Calendar indeed skips July and August for most of us, we are still teachers throughout the summer months. We come in to organize our classrooms over the summer. We plan exciting new units and try to get a ‘head start.’ Put simply, we may not be working in the building, but we are always thinking about the work.

Teachers are dedicated to their vocation – not a job. We are always on the clock and find ourselves celebrities when spotted in grocery stores or seen at the local parade. We have a real connection to our students and the community. regardless of what season it is. This certainly does not stop for a summer break.

We take courses. We attend workshops. We plan lessons. We go to symposiums. We build our skill base – while having the ‘summer off.’ Each summer, I try to find new ways to be more efficient in my teaching – to help me balance the workload of home and school. But I never really put the teaching out of my head while the summer sun burns. We are always thinking about the next group of students.

Having the summer months “off” is indeed nice. This is an opportunity for many of us to enjoy time with our families – just as our students do. The demands of the job are high, but the intrinsic rewards of making a difference in the lives of our students is unbelievable. I would have chosen this profession without the summers off.

So, the next time someone comments on how lucky you are to have your summers off, let them know you agree. It’s a great deal! And if they want to transform the future of our society and help to create a better world to live in by driving student learning – it’s only a matter of taking the right courses and becoming a teacher, too. Truly, one of the most vital and treasured jobs in societies all across the world – with summers off!


Do you think that our schools should be closed for the summer? How have you responded to people who question the fairness of your summer vacation?


During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.



Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  • http://adunsiger.com Aviva (@avivaloca)

    Neil, this is an excellent point! Yes, we do a lot over the summer to get organized for the next year and to become better teachers. We also get some time off, and that’s a nice thing too. When people comment to me about having the summer off, I often say that this is a wonderful thing, but that I also spend much of the summer preparing for the next school year. In a nice way, I try to educate others about what having the “summer off” really means. Usually opinions change once you share this information with others, and I think that this education is a good thing!


    • Janet Lee

      Absolutely, Aviva! Just ask my family if I have the summers off. They will say no. :)

      Our jobs are so much more than the hours we are actually getting paid for. The terrible tragedy in Newtown reminds us how important we are and that our jobs are so much more than a 9-5 proposition.