My journey to shoot for the moon.

“It must be nice to have summers off.”  Yes, well, it would be nice, if it were true.  I agree that teachers do not have to go into the classroom to work over the summer.  But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t working.  Let me give you some examples:  this fall I am teaching a new class (English Strategies I) and a semester of another “new” class (as I have never taught 1st semester English Strategies II), I am also team-teaching a Spanish class.

For English Strategies I, I will be expected to teach To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet and The Odyssey.  In English Strategies II, I am supposed to teach Catcher in the Rye and, well, I don’t know yet.  It has been over 20 years since I read those novels.  I remember them, but not well enough to teach them, so I am re-reading all of them.  Our school is also taking part in the remembrance of the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the “spark that ignited the Holocaust.”  This is in November.  I can teach the students using short stories or a novel; how I teach them is entirely up to me.  So, I have read several books regarding the Holocaust (fiction and non-fiction) to figure out what I want to use to teach.

But remember, I’m not reading these books for fun; I’m reading these books with an eye as to what the students will struggle with, what they will have questions about AND what are the essential points I will need to make sure they grasp.  So far, relating to novels, I have spent over 20 hours reading and planning.

In addition to novels, I will be teaching writing.  I have a Rubric that I am expected to use, but how I instruct the students is up to me.  The Rubric is from MYP (Middle Years Programming) since we are an IB School (International Baccalaureate).  I have spent more than 20 hours working on what I want to focus on in that area.

Furthermore, I had to move all of my “stuff” from my classroom that wouldn’t fit in my locked cabinet.  They are replacing the carpet in the building and could not store everything.  It will be nice to have new carpet, but I will have to move everything back into my classroom in August (as soon as I am allowed in my room).  Then I will have to organize everything that came off the shelves in my room and got stuck in the cabinets.  I figure this will take 10-20 man hours to complete (the boys will help with this).

Then there is the shopping for my classroom.  I am a new teacher and didn’t have any books on the Holocaust for my classroom library.  I didn’t even have a copy of The Diary of Anne Frank.  I found several different books at a used bookstore in town (Cover2Cover) and bought them, then I had to research if they were approved books or not (could I use them to teach or couldn’t I – or would I have to only use excerpts).

Then there is the best practices research that I need to keep up on so that I can use different strategies to teach my students, as needed.  I will spend 1 day in training on our new electronic IEP program (Individual Educational Program).  Although I will get a stipend for this day…

I figure that I will end up working almost 4 weeks out of my 9 weeks of vacation.  And that is essentially unpaid time.  Yes, teachers get paid over the summer (and they aren’t working), but it is that they get paid for 10 months of work over 12 months.  My salary is $37,400.  I am contracted to work 185 days, so I make $201 per day.  I am also contracted to work 7.50 hours per day, which means I make approximately $27 per hour.  There is no overtime pay, no bonuses and no comp time.  I don’t get paid extra for parent-teacher conferences, attending after-school activities to support students or answering emails on my own time.   I figure that in a normal week (including weekends) between planning, working with students individually, and grading papers, I work more like a 50 hour week.  During a “bad” week it might be more like 55 hours.

If you take that I work my 185 days at $201 per day – divided by working a 50 hour week (10 hours per day), which means I make closer to $20 per hour.  Then factor in that I actually worked, let’s say conservatively, 3 extra weeks during my “summer” – so instead of working 185 days, I really worked 200 days – which means that I make more like $18 per hour.

To put that in perspective – if I worked 52 weeks a year and made $18 per hour, I would make the same as I do now.  A massage therapist makes more money per hour, so do carpet installers, hair stylists, waitresses and dental assistants.  I don’t have anything against anyone in these professions (I know they work HARD).  But think about it.  The person that is teaching your child earns less per hour than the waitress at a decent restaurant.

The average pay for a babysitter in my area is $11-15 per hour for one child.  Huh.  I am responsible for anywhere between 5-15 students at one time (because I teach Special Education – a regular education teacher wouldn’t make more, but would be responsible for anywhere between 23-32 students).  I have my Master’s degree.  A babysitter makes $3 less than I do per hour.  Something is wrong with this picture.  Why is it that we value our babysitters and not our teachers?


Comments on: "The Myth of a Teacher’s Summer Vacation" (2)

  1. Yes, why is it that babysitters are more valued? They aren’t certified, don’t spend years to get a degree, many aren’t old enough to drive, etc.

    There is absolutely something very wrong with this picture. Good luck with your classes, Robin.

    Blessings – Maxi


    • Thanks Maxi –

      In addition, most babysitters don’t “buy” things. Many of my students hadn’t eaten breakfast before coming to take their standardized tests, so I bought raisins, granola bars, cheese crackers, etc. That all came out of my pocket. It is the things that teachers do because we care about kids…and that is priceless.


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