Why teachers need a summer break

Discussion in 'General Education' started by midwestteacher, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    Jun 28, 2011

    Editorial from the local paper on why teachers need a summer break -it is for the public's benefit.


    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2011/06/27/brad-clemons-why-teachers-need-summer-breaks/

    BRAD CLEMONS: Why teachers need summer breaks
    Letting teachers have summer breaks are for the public’s benefit
    Monday, June 27, 2011 | 3:36 p.m. CDT
    BY BRAD CLEMONS

    The most annoying question a teacher gets is, “What are you going to do all summer?”

    The asker is implying one of two things, each determined by where he puts the emphasis. If the asker puts the emphasis on the “do” – “What are you going to ‘do’ all summer?” — we teachers understand. He likely pictures us sleeping until 10 a.m., sipping Kool-Aid in a plastic kiddie pool and reading Harlequin novels while Prince plays in the background.

    That is an unfair stereotype born of and perpetuated by jealousy.

    One problem is that the public observes retired teachers leisurely making crafts or gardening on a dewy morning; that image is projected onto all teachers. What people don’t realize is that any random teacher gardens because of her psychosis. The lady is so fried from years of repeating herself and being disrespected that she has been reduced to compulsive gardening as a form of self-therapy.

    It’s quite healing for a seasoned educator to work with an object that cannot talk back, run away or lie to its parents. A person needs to see progress, so gardening for a teacher is perfect because the plants grow quickly, and if not, strangulation is still legal. Plus, she can lead a plant to water, and it will actually drink. If her plants get mixed up with the wrong weeds, she can rip the weeds out, however passionately, and people will compliment her thoroughness.

    But when the asker puts the emphasis on “all” – “What are you going to do ‘all’ summer?” — I have a problem with that.

    He foolishly perceives summer the way he did as a child — the days bled into each other as warm and breezy evenings served as pauses in one long adventure. Waters, suntan lotions, girls who did not yet know him, bicycles and Jeeps – these made great memories. Surely each summer is 90 Saturdays in a row, he thinks.

    That person’s view is skewed by his failure to understand what teachers did “all” fall, winter and spring.

    In August, each teacher came in with a hopeful glow and the dove of peace on his shoulder. He also used naïve phrases such as, “There is no such thing as a dumb question.”

    By September, the dove was gone, but there was still a job to do. The teacher chuckled, remembering that students are and have always been difficult. He felt that with a few more corrections, the kids’ bulbs of self-control would light, and he would write a book someday with lots of Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes in it.

    By October, the teacher identified the children who had been “left behind,” and he formed a revised plan. He also pushed his weekend honey-dos back to Christmas break and wondered if he was the only one to think there were a few legitimately dumb questions.

    By November, the teacher knew why the children had been “left behind” and subsequently denounced everything he was forced to learn about education from his college professors, all of whom worked only with adults and thus disqualified themselves as authorities.

    By December, the promise of a break made the teacher smile. He read self-help books and formulated his own poetic halftime speech. He even began to shake off the frustration he was developing with a few students: Answers-rhetorical-questions-in-the-middle-of-a-lecture Boy; Squid Boy, who can’t keep his hands off of those around him and has a habitual fancy for ink; and even Entitlement Girl, who misses two days a week, never makes up any work yet is genuinely shocked when her grade is low.

    January was rough, but he only looked on CareerBuilder.com a few times. He re-clarified the classroom expectations and introduced a list of dumb questions.

    By the end of February, he found himself having to shake off sarcastic thoughts: “You’re like the little sister I never wanted”; “I think you just had an out-of-skull experience”; or “Have a brunette explain it to you later.”

    March was bearable because the thought of spring break made him think of beaches, and even though his room had no windows, he changed his desktop background to a beach scene and tried not to think about Missouri weather in March or his honey-do list he had put off from fall and winter.

    In April, like a prisoner with tally marks, he began to count things. He was on his third stapler, nine girls and one boy had cried in his class this year, and he was shocked to discover that he had been asked, “Are we gonna do anything today?” 427 times — just one short of the threshold he set in March, at which a sacrifice would be required. He estimated that by the end of the next month, he would have graded more than 1,100 essays this year, all demonstrating such a low level of progress that in order to avoid the despair of a wasted life, he would have to convince himself that the whole class was actually deaf and he had never noticed.

    May, though, was better than he feared. He renewed his contract and answered congenially the first 10 times he was asked, “What are you going to do ‘all’ summer?” In private, he researched emotional disorders on WebMD and became dissatisfied with all humor except statements that were punny.

    See, summer breaks are essential to public health. People should wisely remember how cranky most of their teachers were and then imagine how unsafe a school could be if those teachers did not have time to tend garden or do crossword puzzles or visit places like Maine. So, teachers should “do” whatever it takes “all” summer in order to not “injure” people.

    We teachers love our students like family. But the best of families need to get out of the minivan and stretch every so often.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 28, 2011

    I love this line especially! It reminds me so much of my students sometimes.
     
  4. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Jun 28, 2011

    Very good! However, I do indeed make it plain to my students on the first day that dumb questions do exist; I then encourage students to carefully contemplate their question to ensure that it doesn't qualify.
     
  5. Teacher_Lady

    Teacher_Lady Rookie

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    Jun 28, 2011

    :lol:

    so true, so true
     
  6. MATgrad

    MATgrad Groupie

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    Loved it so much I posted it on my facebook page.
     
  7. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Jun 28, 2011

    And the problem with this is????? :lol: :whistle:
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 28, 2011

    I like the last sentence best. The rest of it doesn't paint a true picture of the caring professionals with whom I am blessed to teach. Yes we have our challenges, who doesn't? But I think most teachers have a more positive, 'can do' attitude than connoted in the article:2cents:
     
  9. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Jun 28, 2011

    That's outstanding! And that "calender of events" isn't too far off the mark, I must say! :lol:
     
  10. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Me too!!!
    :)
     
  11. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Don't kid yourself. Even caring professionals have thoughts like these and push past them with a can do attitude!! At least I haven't met anyone that perfect yet :p
     
  12. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Yeah, I teach second grade, so I don't actually refer to them as "dumb" questions (not out loud, anyways), but I teach them to be sure a question is a "good" question before asking it out loud :D
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 28, 2011

    Not perfect by any means, and while I find much of it tongue in cheek, I wonder what 'non-teacher's thought when they read this article...despite the challenges, there are hundreds of candidates who would gratefully change jobs with any professional who checks Career Builder in January or who feels like a prisoner by April. I truthfully don't work with people like THAT.:eek:hmy:
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I think my favorite line was the one stating he'd only looked on CarrerBuilder.com a few times. Been there, my friends! :)
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oh, I just read your comment czacza—that you wouldn't want to work with people who check CareerBuilder.com. :blush: Honestly, despite having daydreamed of other jobs, I'm extremely hardworking, helpful to my colleagues, and an overall good teacher ("master teacher early in her career", according to my principal). It is possible to be less than satisified with education as a whole or your school specifically and still do a killer job in the classroom.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 28, 2011

    I don't doubt it.

    I just don't happen to work with many teachers like this. I know my school is not the norm, and I've said many times that I feel blessed. While our profession is under attack on so many levels, however, there are many other legitimate reasons why teachers have earned their summer breaks.
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jun 28, 2011

    And students, of course. :)
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jun 28, 2011

    Absolutely.:D
     
  19. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jun 28, 2011

    I think you can still be a caring professional and have those kinds of thoughts-I've certainly had some of them. They are all stated as purely thoughts-no one said they were having a "can don't" attitude out loud. Personally, I would never put money on what my colleagues were thinking.

    I thought it was very funny! Definitely worth reading.:thumb:
     
  20. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Good read and funny. The deal is very few people could teach 49-50 weeks a year like the traditional jobs. Kids couldnt take it and teacher burnout would be like malaria sweeping through Panama back in the early 20th century. Luckily, I get some 5th graders to help me with k or 1st sometimes and their comments are gold.
    Coach, I didnt know it was so hard. They won't listen. I usually comment "they won't listen to me so dont feel bad"
     
  21. sjnkate

    sjnkate Rookie

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    Love it! :lol:
     
  22. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Cute!

    Of course, they DID forget to mention the summer workshops and classes many of us are taking in between our Kool-aid and mad gardening sessions :p
     
  23. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 28, 2011

    So true! What a great tongue-in-cheek article! The monthly breakdown was pretty right on. I remember my first year - late February, early March I was a blubbering mess wondering: 1) if I could make it through the rest of the year, 2) if I'd made the best choice to be a teacher - I felt like I wasn't helping them at all. Luckily I had a couple of great teacher friends who got me through it. Maybe it is because of the winter that we hit that wall. Those of you in temperate climates, do you feel like you are stretching thin by the end of Feb. or so?
     
  24. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jun 29, 2011

    That one definitely brought a smile.
     
  25. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I found the article enjoyable and lighthearted, and should probably be taken just to indicate the kinds of stresses a teacher might be undergoing.

    As an actual argument for why teachers need summer break, it's a bit lacking -- there are countries with significantly less of a summer break than the US, and I suspect in several of those countries teachers are generally better-adjusted. Of course, the educational systems are also different and (at least the ones I know of) tend to put more pressure on the student to perform.
     
  26. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    E-mailing it to my brother, who just asked me the other day, "Now, you have like 3 whole months off now, right?"

    Just wish it included something about all the stuff that fills what is actually only 7 weeks...
     
  27. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    I love it! Thanks for sharing.
     
  28. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Oh, this man gets it! If I wasn't already married, I might have had to track him down...lol.
     
  29. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Although I do work year round, I really enjoyed this very funny article!
     

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