Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Recovering July and August

Q: What are the two most important reasons to become a teacher?
A: July and August

This joke has been around for as long as I can remember. I recall one summer being challenged by someone in the business world who wanted to know why teachers need so much time off. The answer was simple - if you want your kids' teachers to come in with lots of energy and creativity, to have new ideas and not simply repeat the same things they've been doing for the past five years, they need the opportunity to actual;ly think about what they do, learn, read, plan. All the things that they have no time for during the actual school year.

When I first moved into an administrative position, I really missed July and August. Running a school is a full-time business. True, the schedule during the summer was lighter, and I did get to take two weeks away and squeeze in some much needed reading, but it was not the same.

It turns out, however, that many teachers don't have July and August. To supplement their salaries, they need to work in camps and other summer environments, so that they, too, barely have time to catch their breaths. Certainly not time to rejuvenate themselves, learn, free their minds to think creatively.

A colleague of mine recently wrote to me that he had to turn down a professional development program (with full scholarship!) because he could not afford it. Listen: a senior administrator in one of the wealthiest communities in the world, had to commit to working in camp so that his kids could attend. He couldn't afford two weeks for professional development.

And people want to know why it's hard to get good people into the field?

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