Welcome teachers – to the eternal sunshine that is summer vacation! Bravo to you all for making it. You have earned this reward.

However, if you are like me, you probably get the side eye when asked about what we actually do on vacation. I’ve definitely been accused of sitting around for 3 months watching soap operas all day while eating bonbons. Until this accusation, I didn’t even know what bonbons were!

In reality, summer vacation has hardly ever been 3 full months off of school. It usually works out to 2 months but hardly all of it involves sitting by a pool working on a tan. Perhaps there are some teachers who frolic in that glory but not this one. So what DO we do?  Here are the secrets of summer.

Secret #1 – Teachers still do school work
I’ve been out of school for 10 days. In that time I have read two books about curriculum for next year. After spending the last 7 years in grades 3 through 5, I will move to kindergarten in the fall. This means I have a lot to learn. One book is all about reading comprehension in primary grades. The other is about structuring a meaningful block center.

I’ve started collecting titles of books that could accompany the curriculum. This involves reading through curriculum for ELA and Math and finding connections online. Each time I find a book, I request it from the library and read it so I know if it will be a good fit for the classroom. I definitely don’t have time to do this level of research in the school year! Summer is for diving deep and learning. I’ve spent a couple hours every day doing this type of research.

I also have new items to purchase. Budgets are tight in schools which means thrifty shopping is key to stretching the money. My classroom requires dramatic play, a block center, art supplies, and more books. Garage sales are a must! Looking for cost efficient supplies could be a full time job. I don’t know how I would get this done during the school year! There has already been one trip back to school to drop off a pint-size rocking chair.

Secret #2 – We have other jobs
This marks my 11th summer as a teacher. Every single summer I have had some sort of second job. For a few summers I did child care. For the past 6 summers I have worked at a summer camp. I have some friends who tutor over the summer. Others work retail or work at summer school. I finally work at a school that spreads my paycheck over all 12 months. However, not working in the summer means only spending money. That never works out for anyone!

Secret #3 – We take vacation
Teacher vacations are a blessing and a curse. We have the best vacation schedule of any job – I am willing to admit that. Every vacation is during peak travel time and prices to go somewhere are costly. We just don’t get paid enough to travel during every break. Summer vacation provides a unique opportunity to seize some of those Tuesday through Tuesday cheap flights.

Secret #4 – We do relax
Yes, today I watched the rest of Orange is the New Black, curled up with my cat, in my pajamas until noon. There are a rare few days of summer where the dream is the reality! I truly relish these moments.

What do you do during your summer vacation? Any new secrets to reveal?!

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Megan Howe

Megan Howe

Teacher and Children's Book Aficionado

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.