One of my BFFs recently posted her highlights of her summer, most, if not all, included time spent with friends and family. Her wonderful words made me stop and think what would I be grateful for about these past few weeks? I need to step out of the mud miring the beginning of this school year, forget about all the people who say, “oh, you get summers off!” and show some gratitude and count some blessings.
Before I can get to the chewy center, though, I need to get this off my chest: teachers get the summers off because our students do. We are not paid. We are not under ‘contract.’ We are on a forced vacation. Many teachers take summer jobs. Many teachers teach summer school. Most teachers do some sort of professional development, paid for out of their time and pocketbooks. If I added up the hours I spent working during the school year, it would equal any high-level executive, including being accessible to students practically 24/7 on e-mail, voice mail, and in person before or after school (unless of course I am in a meeting, which is often the case…we have meetings to talk about how to help students while the students are standing outside in the cold, literally and figuratively). I put in my time well beyond my contract day, and I love my job, so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice or burden. And, one of the reasons I became a teacher (as opposed to going back into a higher-paying position) was I knew the sacrifice of salary would allow me to spend time with my family, too. So, fine. Yes. I’m lucky to have ‘summers off.’ But it is kind of hard to be a teacher when the students are not there! Most schools in the United States still run on an agrarian calendar, meaning we don’t have school when the children need to be working the farms with their parents. What? You say you don’t have a farm? Oh.
Anyway, here are the highlights of my summer:
- Meeting new friends during my three-week writers’ workshop
- Discovering the UW campus at that workshop
- Seeing my youngest sister and her family
- Having our portraits taken by a talented photographer who captured a beautiful photo of me and my two sisters (my parents will LOVE it!)
- Enjoying time in Texas
- Being there when my grandmother had her 90th birthday
- Getting the garage cleaned out and finding all of my Halloween decorations for a spooky October this year
- Learning how to make glass pendants
- Reading some great books
- Spending time with my dad
- Learning about a variety of good news from friends and colleagues
- Getting some of my sleep issues taken care of
- Spending time with my boys and my husband, and actually having time to cook meals, talk, and enjoy each others’ company (this isn’t last because it’s the least important, it is the most important one of all, and supports everything else I do)
So, it’s time to enjoy the mental ‘harvest’ I’ve collected over the summer, and use it to nourish me throughout the school year. I am honored to be a teacher, and get to meet this next group of young adults. See you soon!