04 June 2011

Adjusting to summer

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently in the Central Valley of California working a summer job. Actually, I'm here to live now, since my wife moved us here to take a job (for her, not for me). Anyway, something is happening to me which happens every year: I'm trying to adapt to summer.

Why do I need to adapt, you ask? Here's the thing; just like students, teachers need to get used to a slower pace of life during the summer. Even with my current (summer) job, which can be stressful, and where I live on-site, I find that I'm less busy and hectic feeling than I am during the school year. I also find that I can leave work at work more easily.

But this doesn't happen overnight. No, it's a process. For example, today I wanted to go shopping for some items that we'll need at camp on Monday. I also made a to-do list for when I go back up the hill. Now, could I have done these things on Monday when I'm back on the clock? Obviously. In fact, I think most people would suggest that unless there is something really pressing to start on Monday morning that's the right time to do those things.

However, as a teacher, I'm really used to taking care of that kind of thing on "my" time. You see, the school day is a time for teaching, mostly. That means that work like planning and getting basic items prepared must be done outside of the work day. I know that written about this before but that happened back in the first week that the BlazeBlog was on the Internets so I think I'll re-air my thoughts about how hard teachers work.

Teachers plan, they grade, they do paperwork. They do most of this on their own time. If a teacher gets 90 minutes of "work" or "plan" time per day without kids they work for an exceptionally generous district. Most teachers get barely half of that. Now, as schools receive less money and are expected to do more with it, teachers will end up with even less planning time. 

These are people who knew exactly what they were getting into when they took the job. They knew they would have to work at night. They knew that they were in for a life when they wouldn't be able to go out to lunch, a life where "Square Pizza Day" was a day for celebration. They knew they were taking less money than their peers, but were willing to do that because they wanted to have an impact on children's lives. 

They deserve better than they get. However, I suspect that as long as people continue to demand more services while also demanding less taxes teachers won't get more. It will become a more and more thankless job.

But as any critic of public teachers will tell you, those teachers get a summer break, and that's enough, right? It will be for me, since my wife convinced me to put down the list and to actually do some work around the house instead of shopping for supplies. (Don't worry, I'm taking care of that on Monday morning). 

Happy summer, but don't let these 8 weeks of relaxation for teachers convince you that the other 44 weeks of their year didn't more than make up for it.

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