It’s June 25, and across Maryland the 2010-2011 academic year is history. Teachers everywhere are hearing their family and friends say, “I know you’re glad to be on vacation,” or one of its many variations. Many believe that a teacher’s job ends once the children leave the school building on the last day of classes. What they don’t realize is that the work never really ends. For a dedicated teacher, summer is a time to recharge, yes, but it’s more often a time to reflect and begin preparation for the next group of students who will appear at the door of the classroom in just a few short weeks.
Many teachers, especially in our current economic climate, take on extra jobs in the summer. While many opt for non-education related positions, others teach summer school or write curriculum. Both summer school and curriculum writing involve reviewing content, planning lessons, and thinking about best practices – all of which keep teaching in the front of the brain. Even when they’re not writing or teaching in “their” specific content area, the process keeps teachers thinking about what they can apply in their own classrooms in the coming year.
Summer is also a time for professional development. Workshops, conferences, graduate classes, and even informal get-togethers with colleagues offer the opportunity to expand one’s personal repertoire of instructional techniques and strategies. Being able to focus on and analyze the many ideas that emerge, without the added responsibility of having to grade papers, call parents or supervise recess, gives teachers a chance to really think about what will work for them, with their students, in their school environment, or how they can adapt the ideas they gather to their own situation.
When August rolls around – and it will all too soon – teachers return to duty with a renewed sense of optimism and excitement. They are revitalized, not because they have “been on vacation” all summer, but because they’ve been mentally preparing for the first day of school since the last day of school.