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Five Responses to Critics of Summer Break

By Christy Crawford on June 18, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

This summer most educators will be working a second job, taking courses to hone their craft, or prepping for next year's incoming class. And yet, most of us will hear a multitude of silly or patronizing comments about getting the summer off from those who have never taught professionally.

Breath deeply. Refrain from anger. Use one of the responses —and its supporting facts — below to educate the commenter.



ONE    My other half says he (she) would get more attention if he (she) were a 3rd grader! Whoo-hoo! Now I have some time to rekindle our relationship.


I'm getting to know my children again. I'm very excited!

From page 15 of the Primary Sources: 2012 Report, America's Teachers on the Teaching Profession: The average teacher works 10 hours and 40 minutes a day. Tack on additional time for extracurricular activities, like coaching or monitoring clubs.


TWO        After a couple of months with my favorite germ incubators, I'm intrigued by the idea of time off as a chance to shore up my immune system.

According to a study by the University of Arizona, teaching ranks as the germiest job in America!




THREE      Late August through early June, I'm a custodian, nurse, artist, actor, psychologist, friend, educator, and sometimes even a substitute parent. Now I get to spend some of my vacation time being a student!  

The NEA states, "Most full-time employees in the private sector receive training on company time at company expense, while many teachers spend the eight weeks of summer break earning college hours, at their own expense."




FOUR     My accountant says I can only write off $250 of the money I spend on my students. So I'll be cutting coupons, hitting all of the back-to-school sales, combing flea markets, and dumpster diving, looking for stuff for my students or anything to use in the classroom. Wanna join me?  

Most teachers spend hundreds of personal dollars on basic school supplies; food or snacks for hungry children; soap, toilet paper, toothbrushes; children's clothing; and field trips. Check out this Huffington Post slideshow on teacher spending.




FIVE      I spend at least six hours a day, 180 days a year, in a small room with children, shaping self-esteem and making the hardest tasks seem fun. And when September rolls around, and those children return, the look of gratitude on their parents’ faces tells me they understand the value of my work.


What am I doing this summer? Among other job-related tasks, I'll be taking a robotics course, planning a 12-week robotics curriculum for 3rd through 5th grade, and presenting "Great Apps for the Common Core Classroom" at  Scholastic's New York headquarters. 

What are you doing this summer?  Share your summer plans and share your answers for quelling silly summertime comments.

Comments (34)

I AM CURRENTLY IN A 2 week Curriculum Alignment group. Later I have a three day Reading Academy. I also have to take 2 courses about our curriculum and an ELL course. Plus I admit that I spend many summer days obsessing about my room! The rest of the summer is spent with my 4 kids!
I had a parent ask how my summer "off" was, and I told her what I was doing. She was surprised and said, " I thought you were done learning", which struck me as sad! I told her I hope I never stop learning!

This year, when someone said they'd like to trade jobs with me to get my "time off," I handed off the two bags of teacher manuals I was loading into my car, as well as my class schedule for the PD I'm taking this summer, along with my meeting schedule for grade level coordinators. I said, "Awesome! I'd love a 9-5 job this summer!" Then I told her that I'd need a well-planned out outline for the coming year, how she planned to align extra activities to the CCSS, plans for each month's district collaboration meeting, and a completely stocked classroom as well. She quickly handed my stuff back and said she'd changed her mind. No surprise there!

Let's see. My list includes going to 5 Professional Development days, preparing lesson plans for K-5 PE classes and trying to get PE/ common core to go together. I have had 2 video seminars to 'attend' and paper work to fill out for 700+ students to put on computer.
Luckily I have family who is very supportive and helpful and doesn't mind my paperwork all over the kitchen table.

When people tell me how jealous they are of my summers off, I remind them of how I went back to school to do it...married, two kids, fulltime job and I went back to school to be a teacher. If I can do it...they can too!

This is a great post Christy, thanks for sharing.

I will be teaching summer school, which I have a week and a half to come up with the curriculum, teach it 8:30 - 3:00 Monday through Friday for five weeks, then I can take one week off before we are required to be back school for Professional Development, so in fact I get less unpaid vacation time then a non teaching job would get.

Summer school is incredibly hard!! Hats off to you! :)


Great post! I completely agree; it's such a misconception when people think teachers have the summer off.

Thanks, Karen! Have a great summer!

I don't get paid over the summer, so it is not a paid vacation...it is unpaid leave. I work eleven hour days on average during the school year. Much of that is helping high school students with math assignments after school. I don't get paid for that either. Over the summer I try to do house repairs and cleaning that I can't afford to hire out on my teacher pay. I also try to visit parents and in-laws since I only have 3 personal days of leave during the school year. I take continuing education courses on my own time and dollar during the summer. Mostly, I try to ignore the ignorant comments made by those who have not walked a mile in my shoes, so I can rejuvenate and make a positive difference in my students' lives when I return.

Amen-- it is UNPAID LEAVE! Enjoy your family. Enjoy your rejuvenation!


Like my American counterparts, I too will be hard at work this summer. After a short vacation with my family ( do teachers even have families of their own!?), I will be purging things from my classroom and organizing it for next year - with my children in tow. I will be hard at work trying to rearrange my long-range plans so that they include as many of the newest and latest research-based techniques as I can accommodate in one year, in a way that gives me the most bang for my buck while cramming in as many of the curriculum expectations I must teach in all subjects. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, but the time we get "off" in the summer is not time spent idle. I like to look at it as the refreshing calm before another storm ;)

*Breathe deeply...

What am I doing this summer? Any one of these worked for me for 37 summers.
The worst ones were those who thought I had paid vacations.What a hoot!
A paid vacation... do you know any teacher that gets a paid vacation?!?

But I was usually nice....
I'm spending more time with my own children than other peoples.
I'm taking classes to renew the credential that the state has decided is needed.
I'm working at the county fair so I can bring my family through the gate.
I'm working at Target to pay for school clothes.
I'm travelling to see my mother and sisters, whom I have not seen since last summer.

I will be teaching 3rd graders, who did not pass the FCAT, in summer school. I have 20 days to help them pass a similar test that they had 180 days this past school year, to learn and prepare for. Also, I will be taking Professional Development courses on the Common Core Standards and making lesson plans for next years school year. Oh, yeah, I will be taking 1 week off to visit my granddaughters up north.

Wow! When you hear about summers like yours, you wonder why anyone would want to bash teachers? Enjoy that 1 week! ;)


I will be moving my classroom and purging. I went from 9 file cabinets of worksheets to a 2 drawer file cabinet, which only hold my students folders for their records. I found ALL of them on line... with the new Common Core.. worksheets are a waste of time.. for me.. and for my students.. they DO NOT prepare my students for College and Career Readiness. I threw away ALL store bought items that go on walls. My students now create them... ownership of their poster and classroom. I have a regular size student desk for MY desk... who has time to sit. I am now revisiting all my units of study for Reader's workshop, Writer's workshop, Critical Literacy, Math, Science, and History to see how I can change my lessons to be common core based. I'm reading about Close Reading too.

" I love to say, thanks, I love my job, because I get to plan for next year all summer long. How many people love their job so much that they get to work with and raise others children... And by the way, I want to go to the robotics classes at scolastic! Where do I sign up!

I am taking 5 graduate credits ($900 plus books) about Common Core, applying to and interviewing for jobs since my teaching position was eliminated, working ahead at my second job because I won't have time once school starts, and doing what I harp about to my students all the time yet have no time during the school year to do it myself....read!

Not every teacher is an elementary teacher. It'd be nice to see some secondary grades mentioned as well.

This summer I am teaching 16 hours of summer school, spending 6 hours per week working on a committee to improve our school's writing curriculum which involves research and planning, and preparing to teach the staff what we learned and what we develop. When I'm not working on those 2 projects, I am preparing to teach a 6/7 combo class that starts mid August. I'll be taking a class or two for professional development. Oh, and I have three daughters to spend quality time with, and a husband who likes to see me now and then too.

I am teaching summer bridge to rising fourth graders, taking a refresher course to be a vooperating teacher, another for mentoring new teachers, taking a four day math workshops, and recreating curriculum due to new reading and math adoptions as well as transitioning to common core.

After hearing this several times I responded by saying...this was my career choice and its not too late you can still go back and get your degree! I've never heard anymore from her!

I just returned from 9 days in Louisville, KY -- scored 1,400 AP Literature essays. Arrived home just in time for my summer writing class to begin.

This summer I will taking time to reenergize. My school district still believes that NCLB gave them permission to bully teachers.

I will be attending the Maine Leaning Technology Initiative Summer Institute. I will be paying the registration and accomodation fees myself, as I have every other summer. I will return in September to a district that will not care about what I learned.

I am taking a self-directed graduate course in integrated curriculum and interdisciplinary studies, I need the 45 points for recertification and hope the district will support my being a part of a teaching team for 11th. grade American Studies. The district has promised, but I am used to being reassigned in September.

I will write grants for enrichment activities for students. I have raised thousands of dollars over the years and never been thanked by the district. The district takes the grants for granted.

I will take one week of vacation with my husband and spend hundreds of dollars buying materials for the classroom and gathering as many free resources as possible.

I am working at my summer job. I do housekeeping or waitressing every summer. I need the money, but I also need the break of having a job I can complete and not carry home.

I will visit our daughter and son-in-law and our two grandchildren and son, as much as possible.

I will run, practice Yoga, meditate, along with eating healthy, and remind myself that I am doing important work. Work that seldom is repected, appreciated or rewarded by school administrators.

In the worst climate for teachers that I have experienced in 26 years in education, even the Union is powerless.

No teacher should ever have to defend "taking the summer off" because we don't!

I spent three hours of my summer vacation working in my classroom today. There are always those organizational tasks that you just can't do with students in the room!

I plan to do this at least 4-5 more times this summer, plus my professional development (24 hours-required).

So far this summer, which started 3 weeks ago for me: completed work on EdS degree, presented my qualifying paper for my EdD, made a 3-hour presentation at the West Tennessee Writing Project and participated in their Writing Marathon the following week, wrote a letter to the Governor of Tennessee, prepared to attend the International Society for Technology in Education conference next week, made plans for a parent media night next year, began plans for ten-minute technology lessons for teachers for next year, began organizing materials for next year, and then there are the hours I have spent researching on the internet, viewing webinars, and making contacts with educators across the world. (By the way, the coursework and the conference are completely on my own dime. Totally. Every penny.)
All that and THIS is a relatively laid back summer! Summer vacation? BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

How about learning the ever changing curriculum and now common core standards that have to be written and posted everyday in my room.

I've been doing things around the house I don't have time to do during the year, but I am also preparing lessons for next year, coming up with starters for the year, and working on Common Core Lesson plans.

I'll be finishing my book.

I look at summer as the repayment of all of the overtime I worked during the school year. I average 18 hours extra a week during the school year. That just about covers July and August.

Well.. being that I will be starting my first teaching job as a Elementary Music Teacher, I will be spending the rest of my summer planning lessons, trying to come up with creative ideas to decorate my classroom, learning how to play the recorder, as well as work the full time job I have right now. I know that becoming a teacher is going to be a more than full time job but I can't wait to get started.

No longer is the 3 month summer break for teachers that people still think we get! During my few weeks off I'll be working a part-time job at a bank and taking 2 graduate classes.

I'm working on 2 grad classes and studying the Common Core. :)

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