I hear it all the time. The great defense against lousy teachers' salaries across the country - we have our summers off.
When I was going to school in Boston, MA - Labor Day weekend was the last hurrah before the start of a ten-month educational trek that had only only a week at Christmas and April as it's respite.
But I never gave thought to the fact that while I was squeezing out the last drops of Summer that Labor Day weekend, my teachers were probably already in their classrooms - cutting out letters, putting names on pencil boxes and xeroxing spelling packets.
|HOW WAS YOUR SUMMER...?|
I would kill to make that true today.
On July 23rd of this year, I stepped into my classroom for the first time - a bare room stacked with cardboard boxes filled with every book, pencil and dictionary that goes in my classroom. The same boxes I packed back in June because each year we have to strip our room down bare for its summer cleaning and then unpack in July in time for the first day of school in August.
For the next two weeks I did the following:
1. OPEN BOXES.
Lots of them - over forty. Boxes of books. Boxes of supplies. Boxes of bean bag seat cushions. Cleaning supplies. Paper trays. Paperclips. Crayons. band-aids. STUFF....
2. SURVEY THE MESS
Forty boxes of crap takes up a lot of space. Sometimes its best to pause, breathe - maybe even shed a tear or two before diving in.
3. PUT BOOKS AWAY
Five different academic books for each of my thirty students. Not to mention dictionaries, encyclopedias, Thesarus, and chapter books. All told, over a mid-size car's weight in books that are to be put on shelves, desks and tables.
4. GO SHOPPING
|It's July 29th... where are those pencils?|
5. MAKE COPIES
All those packets of questionnaires, address cards, introductory letters to the parents and school policies have to be copied sometime, right? A full day of making copies - ink cartridges, stacks of paper, staplers and hours of manpower that will only get tossed away on the same day I pass them out by parents who don't, can't read them.
6. CRUNCH NUMBERS
The days of "What I Did This Summer" are over. Teachers are supposed to preview student abilities by looking at last year's scores and get a complete picture of their thirty students, their strengths, areas of concern and an indivualized philosophy, intervention, enrichment, and pedagocial approach for each and every one of their thirty students.
7. CHECK MY SAVINGS ACCOUNT
Eighty-seven dollars. Get ready. We have not had a raise in eight years. The district proposes a 1.2 percent - we politely decline. Union Leaders say prepare to strike and make sure you start putting savings away for the time you will not be paid... HA-HA-HA..! Savings.... that's funny.
8. MAKE SURE MY KIDS HAVE DAYCARE, PLAYDATES OR OTHER SUPERVISION
Just because our district goes back to school August 12th, my children's district still maintains enough common sense to start after Labor Day....