I recently heard the phrase "There are three good reasons to be a teacher: June, July, and August." I've heard the sentiment, if not the exact words, before, and I still get just as angry.
Most school divisions around here will end in mid- to late June with teachers reporting back in early August. So, I guess that just leaves us with July.
Some teachers quantify their "earned" summer vacation by pointing out that we work an average of fifty-three hours of week. If you're contracted for thirty-five hours as many teachers are, that's 576 hours we're working past our contracts a year. Those hours equal over eighty-two additional teaching days.
But I think we're not acknowledging something important when we talk about teachers' summer vacations. I think of a vacation as something I can take or do while still getting paid. As a teacher, however, during summer break, I've essentially been laid off and have chosen to split my paychecks from the academic year up into small enough chunks that I can continue to eat and pay my student loans.
What's the answer to this problem of de-professionalization? Year-round schools (and if that's the case, when do we have the chance to recharge, plan, and attend classes)? Contracts that reflect the time most teachers put into their classrooms? Summer work relating to policy and curriculum?
I haven't found the answer yet, but I know that I'm a teacher no matter the season.