“You expect at least eight weeks paid vacation per year because that is what the taxpayers of North Carolina gave you back when you were a poorly compensated teacher.” – Sen, David Curtis in May of 2014 in response to a teacher letter.
“I suspect that most people, if told they could work 10 months a year doing something they love, and make $54,000, would leap at the opportunity. Most would be content, if not elated. Very few, I suspect, would be protesting.” – Charles Davenport in the News & Record on May 5th, 2019 in reference to the May 1st teacher march and rally.
That “2 month vacation” usually starts for most teachers in the middle of June and goes until the middle of August.
In a typical summer things like the following would be happening just in the first week of our “vacation.”
- Offices open to conduct business.
- Student Services open for registration and transcript analysis.
- Teachers on campus conducting various tasks.
- The yearbook staff working on next year’s edition.
- Rooms being cleared and cleaned.
- Coaches will be conducting camps for community youth.
- State sanctioned workouts will happen on fields and the weight rooms.
- Summer school classes will begin to help students regain credits.
- Some teachers back from grading AP tests and fulfilling end-of-year duties.
- Some teachers will be in professional development classes in various places.
- Some teachers will be prepping for new courses they are to teach because populations change and numbers of sections change.
- Some teachers will be preparing for National Boards.
- Some teachers will be moving materials on campus to facilitate summer cleaning and maintenance.
- Some teachers will be helping interview potential new teachers and then helping those hired get more acclimated with the campus.
- Some teachers will be taking inventory.
- Some teachers will just come to campus to get work done to prepare for next year like send items to print shop or get websites and databases ready.
Even though many campuses were closed much of last school year for many teachers because of the pandemic, many of those actions were still happening. In my 23 years of teaching, I have never worked as much in a summer to get ready for a school year than I have this summer except for maybe last summer.
And that preparation lasted until the very day I reported for pre-planning.
New textbooks. New technology. Meetings.
There are also new courses that I am teaching because the pandemic has done two distinct things to our school’s schedule: made classes bigger because we are operating on last year’s budgets and created more flux in the student body because of virtual academies being used as alternatives to traditional campuses.
Students are already asking about recommendations and reaching out concerning classes. Parents are as well. Communication with my school has been more frequent. Following what the school board has been putting in place for the beginning of the school year has taken more energy and time than ever. Even friends and neighbors ask more questions about school.
Teachers and parents in my system probably receive at least two to three updates a week via email or phone about new policies or existing ones.
It’s ironic that as educators and administration, we had to switch to online instruction in matter of days last March. In some places in the state, that had to happen overnight. Teachers and schools were being praised for what they were trying to do for students and communities.
Now, after preparing for whatever may come in a state that has not fully supported us, schools and teachers are still being villified for trying to do the best for health and safety of all involved and still make learning as authentic as possible. Why? Because now it’s all political.
When I think of that, I remember what people like David Curtis and Charles Davenport said in a time of no pandemic about our “summer vacations.”
Usually, I would remind them that what teachers have are 10-month contracts. What Curtis and Davenport call a “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent by many getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state.
In reality, those “summer vacations” are actually periods of unemployment in which many teachers still do lots of work.
This summer has been a lot of work, but it’s for the kids.