Monday, July 22, 2019

The Myth of the Three Month Summer

My young summer camp students illustrate a song
As a kid, summer vacation lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Since my parents were teachers, we could take a month to drive from Pennsylvania to grandparents in California every 4 years and still have a couple months to make thousands of mud pies and hone our tree climbing techniques. Now that I'm a teacher, with children of my own, however, I can barely find the summer hours for a single mud pie. Here's why.

My students graduate at the end of May and school usually starts about August 1st, which makes it sound like two solid months off, until you realize that the first week of June is post planning and the last week of July is pre-planning.  That gives us a month and a half, unless you teach the week-long summer program at the school, which I always do.

 High School Wesleyan fine arts campers on a gallery walk
And this summer I started working Wesleyan College's summer Fine Arts program which is also a week long.

Then there's the Masters of Education program and I love to help teach the Creativity in the Classroom class every summer.

My graduate students learn how to teach math through art
Toss in my friend's grandma-camp art lesson for two of her cuties and I find myself teaching most of the summer.

I hope I can keep coming back to teach these two each summer
I'm not complaining, there's not a single summer teaching gig that I want to give up. If anything I'd give up the 20 plus appointments to doctors, dentists, orthodontists and orthopedics, but then again, I'd rather concentrate all the family check-ups and minor procedures than have to take off work once the school year starts. And I don't want to give up the home-improvement and scrapbooking projects. I need to make sure my daughter gets to her camps, and my boys get enough hours in for their summer jobs, but everyone needs a break to keep from going crazy.

My family in Pennsylvania Dutch Country last week

That's why I strongly believe in getting out of town and away from endless to-do lists at some point during the summer. My week in Pennsylvania this summer did the trick with lots of chances to visit with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews. I tried to balance rest (conversations, board games, naps, reading) with day trips to National parks, historic sites and museums.  All of the activities either help me recharge for the school year or they will feed into my curriculum at some point.

Teaching isn't like a job that I can clock out for the day or the summer because for those of us, who have heard the calling to become teachers, it is not only about what we is who we are.

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