We hear it all the time.
“Teaching is easy. You get the whole summer off! What are you complaining about?”
Did you roll your eyes too? At this point, it should be obvious as to why teachers need a summer break.
This summer, I began to see my summer vacation in a whole new light. No longer was it just some down time or preparation for the next year. This summer, I realized that summer vacation for teachers is a time to reset our minds, bodies, and souls from everything we endured during the school year…and do it in enough time to start the cycle again in 2 months.
How did I come to this conclusion?
I didn’t have a summer break this year.
No Summer Break?
For the first time since I’ve started teaching, I didn’t have a summer break. If you didn’t already know, I was a teacher in another country for two years. This summer, my family and I transitioned back to the US. Although I was looking forward to this transition, I wasn’t looking forward to the drastic differences in when summer break fell and school started.
In the UAE, school ended July 11th. My new teaching job started on July 17th with new teacher orientation. Add on an additional day for traveling from one side of the world to the other, and I had a total of 5 days of rest before starting my new teaching job.
Some could say “Oh, it was just training with no students! You should’ve been fine.” Click To Tweet
Some could say “Oh, it was just training with no students! You should’ve been fine.”
Not in the slightest.
I faked it for a few days, but internally, my mind, body, and soul were screaming “We Need Rest.”
What some people fail to realize is that when you step back into an educators’ shoes, whether it’s PD or a classroom full of kids, you become overloaded with information, required to chew on new concepts, ideas, curriculums, resources, and understand how they fit into your classroom within two weeks. In addition to all the “new” things your district wants, you have your own ideas, vision, and classroom decor ideas you want to put into place.
A teacher’s mind doesn’t rest once the hat is put back on. That’s why summers are so important.
It’s our time to rest and reset ourselves to do it all over again.
My Breaking Point
For the first few days with my students, I was good. Fired up, filled with energy, and ready to go. But I could feel this “thing” weighing me down.
I was in happy. Building relationships with my new students felt like a chore. I became a consistent complainer and Debbie-downer. The words “I quit.” came out of my mouth more than 10 times. I was overly-agitated with my students. My tolerance for nonsense was very low.
One day, I broke. In front of my administrators and in front of my team.
When asked what was wrong, all I could say was “I Just Need a Break.”
I called my husband on the phone and cried my eyes out in my classroom while my students were in PE. All I could get out was “I Just Need a Break.”
Why Summer Break is the Most Important Break
Fall Break, Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, and Spring Break are all wonderful. They’re strategic, much needed “pauses” in the school year for teachers to simply “breathe” and get back to it.
But the Summer Break? It gives us the space and time we need to release and reset.
We have to release all of the things that happened the year before. Whether it’s a new administration, a new team, new curriculum, or that “one” kid that we’ll never forget (or name our kid after), we have to release it. If we carry it over into the new year, we won’t be giving the year, our school, or our students a clean slate. We’ll come into the year with baggage and frustration, which is a terrible way to start the year.
We also have to reset. The summer gives us a few quiet moments to get back to the root of why we’re still teaching. It gives us time to dream again of the things we’d like to try and accomplish in the upcoming school year. Throughout the year, we think about quitting, transferring, complaining, and just walking out of the door. The summer gives us a chance to reflect on the good times we’ve had as a teacher and rekindle that flame that keeps us in this profession…
… or it just gives us time to put in a new application or transfer request.
Whatever the reason, I learned the hard way that EVERY TEACHER needs a LONG BREAK. We endure too much emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually in 180 days. We are pulled on in every way imaginable… and then some.
Whatever the reason, I learned the hard way that EVERY TEACHER needs a LONG BREAK. Click To Tweet
So the next time someone wants to call your job easy and pulls summer vacation out of their pocket as evidence to support their argument, respond with this list of additional jobs you take on throughout those 180 days:
-First Aid Responder
That’s why teacher need a summer break.
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