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School’s (Not That) Out for Summer

Here’s another reality well-known to educators and their families, but invisible to those hopped up on Fox Noise News: Teachers work well beyond school hours, including during the summer.

Yesterday, a Washington Post articlediscussed how teachers spend the oft-envied summer vacation: by working other jobs and preparing for students and the coming school year.

But for many teachers, the vaunted “summer off” is a shrinking season. Although all the teachers interviewed at Patriot had some kind of getaway planned, they were booking around work-related obligations, such as workshops and second jobs, that fill in whole blocks in their planners.

“People always say, ‘Wow, you get the whole summer,’ ” said Theresa Carson, who teaches business at the school. “But there are literally just three weeks when I don’t have something to do related to school.”

(Note to anyone who wants to begrudge Ms. Carson her three weeks: working with youth is a rewarding, but physically draining, occupation. Having worked in both “grown-up” centered environments and kid-centered ones, I can attest to the fact that I definitely burned more calories in the latter situations! Eight hours with dozens of kids is just. plain. more. tiring. Don’t believe me? Give it a try…)

But, as with many other realities educators face in this day and age, we can’t assume that the public will just know we go through, or that we can depend on the media to fact-check each other when myths like “teaching is a part-time job” take root. We have to educate the public in order to create change.

So, in the spirit of the grade-ins and other actions designed to show the public how much work teachers do beyond school hours, I think it would be a good idea to photograph, blog, tweet and otherwise share the work you’re doing this summer.

Any ideas for a hashtag? #SchoolsStillIn? #SummerWork?

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Sabrina Joy Stevens

Sabrina Joy Stevens is a teacher, writer, and activist who has worked with students in struggling communities in Philadelphia and Denver. She recently helped to o...