How often do you see this statement? Does seeing this statement make you want to justify why June, July, and August are not the reasons why you teach – and would you be surprised if those actually were the reasons why most educators teach?
Here’s a statement that defines my summer “vacation:”
Adapted from Momentum by Jraygor1/Licensed Creative Commons Attribution on July 17, 2011.
I’m enjoying my summer vacation because I can chisel away at my “to-do list” on my own time schedule. The focus of my to-do list is on my learning, on preparing to attain greater goals, so that I can be a better teacher next year. Do other teachers have to-do lists such as mine or do most of us teach because we have time off in June, July, and August?
I asked some of my colleagues why they chose teaching as a career and why they continue to teach. Not one of them mentioned, “June, July, and August!” All of them did mention the phrase, “Making a difference,” however. The teachers who I interviewed mentioned that they teach so that young people will see a more positive side to the world than the one presented in the media or perhaps in their families. They teach because they see students move from being dependent learners to independent learners, and want to see their students reach their highest potential.
Despite the reasons of why we teach, we deal with conditions that have caused some of our finest to walk away from the job. Current legislation in many states seeks to terminate teacher tenure. Teachers walk a fine line between being told to continue teaching one way while integrating new “research-based” strategies into their practice. Stories in the media report of firing entire faculties at underperforming schools. Trying to meet the diverse needs of today’s students can try even the hardiest veteran. If conditions in the classroom are so bad, why do we continue to teach? It’s not because of June, July, and August! We teach because we value the learning that we enable within our students and the learning that we experience as we show our students that they can make a difference, despite the numerous negative messages that our students might receive.
My to-do list grows longer each day as the path to making a difference takes many unexpected turns. This June, July, and August, I’ll be preparing myself for the road ahead – just like every other educator!
Ernie’s Current To-Do List:
- Complete my dissertation for a PhD in Education
- Review knowledge of U.S. History to prepare for next year’s new teaching assignment
- Research effective instructional strategies for teaching U.S. History at the middle school level
- Read as many of the professional books that are sitting on my bookshelf as I can – at last count, more than twenty books await my attention
- Create a scale model of a city, and complete sample writing components of the Future City Competition as an example for my Future City students
- Explore the work that engineers do so that my Future City students can learn more about the career opportunities in engineering
- Prepare myself for an endurance run this summer – running from my high school alma mater in Bucktown, PA to Washington, DC as part of my role with the Save Our Schools March and Days of Action in late July
- Review several professional books for a publisher (not the same as the books mentioned on item 4)
Whether you’re resting up from last year’s hectic pace or preparing yourself for next year, I’d like to know what other teachers do during June, July, and August. What’s on your “To-Do List?”