Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Vacation

I'm in the public library's quiet study room, hoping the library furniture so familiar from my undergraduate days will influence me to focus on my school work.  I've been here since the library opened at 9, and so far I have spent my first two hours doing work for my job -- sending emails, looking at a project a colleague and I worked on yesterday, and filling in my calendar for a vacation week in August that I'll be spending in my school district at classes, meetings, and working for student registration. 

I actually like continuing education, and I chose to devote this summer to a lot of it, both because there are things I think I need to know for my new job responsibilities and because I have decided to take the classes I need to renew my teaching certificate.

However, I would like to find some way for all the people whose objections to teachers seem to include those "summers off" to see my schedule.  Those "summers off" do include time at the beach and some recreational reading, but it's more like being laid off for two months -- but you still have to go to work AND pay tuition to go back to school. 

I actually think that we should look at different school year models -- even when I taught in a rural community with  many working farmers among my students, I didn't think the 19th Century calendar was working for us.  However, I would expect to be paid for working those extra weeks, and I would want to have the four or five weeks of vacation I enjoyed in other professional level positions.  [I think everyone should have more vacation, but that's another story].

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can communicate to our friends, neighbors, politicians, and community that schools have changed since they were in second grade, and that the student's perspective on what a teacher does and how they work is not the whole story?  I do think there is a need for serious school reform, and to look at lots of other possibilities for education -- but seeing something done is not the same as knowing how it is done or being able to do it.  I watch a lot of NASCAR racing, but I wouldn't drive 200 miles an hour.


Pam Hansen said...

I agree that the 19th century agrarian society's school calendar may not be the best model for the 21st century society. However, I'm sure that it would not be easy to change. As a parent, I looked forward to three months of not dragging my children out every weekday morning. My children learned many things when they were not in school. And being a teacher, I tried to keep my children's learning fresh in their minds so that they would not lose too much over the summer. actually, I found that May was the most difficult month for our family because the summer activities were already starting and the school activities had not yet finished. There is also the issue of the weather. Many of our schools are not air-conditioned. Even in May and September, it gets hot in some classrooms. Can you imagine the outcry if teachers would suddenly get A/C?

In a similar vein, research shows that teenagers would learn more if we adjusted our school hours to their biological clocks. But schools have been starting earlier over the last twenty years or so. In Howard-Suamico, school for the middle and high school students starts at 7:30, and the elementary students, who naturally get up earlier, start at 8:45. WHY?

As for informing the public what teachers do, perhaps someone could do a documentary on the day of a regular teacher -- I think there was an actor who became a history teacher for a year -- can't remember who -- but wouldn't it be wonderful if he could inform the public what teaching is really like????

Lakeshore Librarian said...

Most school districts do two runs with their bus routes, and the thinking is that little kids should not be out in the cold and the dark so the big kids get taken to school first.

I agree that the infrastructure for year round school (which is usually structured with month long breaks so the total number of school days isn't that different) isn't there, and I don't think the political will to get there exists yet, though LA and Chicago have a lot of them.

BumblePuppy said...

I haven't had my summer off since 2002 so I always scoff at people who ask me about my summers loafing around doing nothing. I'd say this is a pretty typical summer in which I work typically a 30-40 hour week at my schools, work a 60-70 hour work week at my job, complete yet another class that someone has decided I needed in order to be a "for real" librarian and completing work on my doctorate (of which I have only ONE YEAR LEFT)!! In addition, once and a while I will read a book, watch a movie or go for a "run". While I have an administrative contract as opposed to a teaching, there are very few teachers who I do not see in over the summer working on curriculum, classes, extra projects or required training.

I think the current "look at what that guy's got that I don't... Its not fair" political jargon has created a ton of issues and made many teachers a sort of "public enemy". Either Jon Stewart or Steven Cobert had a little video on talking about how "great" teachers have it lording their "1996 camrys" over everyone. Ooh look it has automatic door locks!

Lakeshore Librarian said...

I saw that Daily Show -- it was very very funny. I'm trying not to focus on my approximately 18% pay cut for next year coupled with the 5.18% increase in local school taxes -- and I have to ask, why am I paying for this madness when the Governor and the Legislature will not be paying 12% of the cost of THEIR health insurance, OR 100% of THEIR pension contributions OR having their salaries frozen. Just saying.
And our District will no longer have salary increases for education obtained, so all the money I'm required to spend this summer is not recoverable in any way -- except that a job is presumed to be better than no job at all.

Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa