Summer’s near, and, as a school teacher, I need to make some plans. Granted, there’s no sky-diving, no great American novel and no whale-saving in my near-future. Though, while lacking flair, my summers do allow me to reconnect with the important aspects of life and recharge my intellectual/ emotional batteries so I can tackle another year of a job that allows me to be who I am.
A school teacher’s perception of summer likely differs from those not receiving 10 to 12 weeks off during the warmer months. We view it as a break, of course, but we also view summer as a chance to catch up and accomplish the myriad of needs and obligations neglected during the school year. With an unusual 11 full weeks available, my plans include:
1. Reconnection: During the school year, much of my fatherly and intellectual energy is spent on my students. Despite the fact that my three kids (16, 13, & 11) attend the same district my wife and I work in and break schedules coincide, I often feel detached from their various activities. Summer offers me the opportunity to participate more energetically in their interests and discover how much they have changed while I was busy grading.
2. Home Improvement: Much of this reconnection will occur while my two boys assist me in maintaining and improving my home. I have a 12 room, multi-story, late Victorian that is in constant need of repair. During the summer, I try to accomplish two major and six minor projects. Note: my daughter helps, but her interest in plumbing and insulation would generously be described as scant.
3. Travel: Ordinarily, we try to plan at least one 7-10 day trip per summer. This summer has been subsumed by summer theater, marching band camps and scout camp. Therefore, no sojourns are planned. Perhaps we’ll drive up to Chicago and see the great museums and a show. I also plan to camp a bit more so the boys can practice scout skills and I can practice being uncomfortable.
4. Professional Development: Like most teachers, my pay is based on a scale that includes increases for course work beyond a bachelor’s degree. Since I already have a master’s degree, I take a variety of classes that are relevant to my profession. I am considering a course on working with at-risk or impoverished students since my district’s demographics have seen a marked increase in these populations.
5. Course Preparation: As a high school teacher, I teach a variety of courses within my field (English). Having taught American Literature and composition courses for twenty years, I am now assigned a course in essentially European Literature as well. I’m eager for the change, but will spend 20 -30 hours of preparation this summer reading texts, creating classroom materials, and figuring out how Samuel Pepys could possibly matter to a modern student.
There are other things I do like hobbies and social events. However, since my typical work day is marked by bells, predetermined schedules and the never-ending needs of others, I prefer take advantage of summer’s freedom and try to live a more spur-of-the-moment life than otherwise possible. Of course, most of these decisions are made while horizontal in a hammock. Have a great summer!