A lovely perk of teaching is that most of my work stops in mid to late-May and resumes in early to mid-August. It is a schedule I have held since I was about seven years old when I started school. Since I have never known anything else, I sometimes have to remind myself that this is not the norm.
People frequently ask me what my plans are for the summer. Sometimes they are curious about where I am traveling or what extra activities I will be involved in. Other times, however, I think they are questioning why I am not getting a job for the summer. Isn’t that what adults do? This lingering question is also mixed with the slight jealousy that I have a few months to not work a 9 to 5 job. I wish I had a job like that, I can almost hear them say.
Well, I’ve decided on a newer tactic this year. If people comment on wishing they had the luxurious schedule that I have, I will tell them a little secret: this dream can be yours, too! All you need to do is go to school, get the appropriate degree, and get a job teaching. Last I heard, there wasn’t a surplus of teachers in our state and teaching here doesn’t require advanced degrees.
But, you see, that is the thing–there just might be a reason schools aren’t overflowing with insane numbers of candidates, at least not where I live. I do get a summer to step away from it all, but that is a perk that must be taken with the less preferable parts of the job. I never argue that I have the most difficult or demanding job in the world. I don’t believe that I do. Yet I hear over and over again from various intelligent people, “I could never do your job.” Which I think is slightly exaggerated, but also quite telling. I think many people could do the job I do, it is simply that many don’t want to.
This brings me back to my luxurious summer schedule. Honestly, the time off in the summer is probably one of the main reasons I continue teaching. I often get sick at the end of the school year, which I feel is my body’s way of giving in after a long sprint to the finish line. During the school year, I never feel caught up or that I have nothing I could do for school. In the summertime, I actually need to remind myself that I have no papers waiting for me at home and that I can simply relax.
Summer is a time I use to go on retreat, travel, read the books I’ve been wanting to, and regain a semblance of mental stability. I don’t view summers as a break from my adult life, but rather a necessary part of what enables me to be in the classroom with teenagers for nine months. I generally enjoy what I do in the classroom. My summer break enables that to be true. After a summer away, I feel refreshed to re-enter the mission field of the classroom and continue sharing the truth of Jesus Christ with them. The time away reminds me that teaching and my students are great gifts in my life.
Some might say a summer off is too much or a waste of time or a luxury for the few. I just think it is necessary for the survival and thriving of my students and myself. And, sometimes, simply surviving is a feat!