Summer Jobs for Teachers

I know you all know that funny joke where the non-teaching world thinks ALL teachers everywhere get…TWO MONTHS OFF in summer! What is this ludicrous idea and who ever thought it up? *(In case you didn’t know, back in the day when everyone grew their own food, children were needed on the farm to help with the planting and harvests; thus, the two month break from studies).

I didn't need to enlist the help of a small child for tonight's dinner harvest, but one day our own children will be shoulder deep in those potato plants during the summer harvest!

I didn’t need to enlist the help of a small child for tonight’s dinner harvest, but one day our own children will be shoulder deep in those potato plants during the summer break!

My biggest pet peeve of all time is when people ask me “what I do”, and I say “I teach”, and they reply, “Sweet! Summers off! Nice life!”  This summer is my first summer as a teacher.  I know I’ve only been a real teacher for one year, but I was a student in the faculty of Education for SEVEN YEARS (I took my time, okay?) so I do know what summer jobs are like, and trust me…I have had quite the variety of summer employment in my 26 years.

A list in chronological order of some of the summer jobs I’ve had over the years:

1) Grocery store, customer service (worst)

2) Plywood mill clean up crew (graveyard shifts)

3) RCMP – safety patrol crew (probably best and most fun)

4) Another police station, BlockWatch Office (also hilarious and lots of fun)

5) Coaching gymnastics summer camps (two summers)

6) That summer I took off to plan our wedding (amazing summer full of unpaid work)

7) Summer camp leader (9 weeks of outdoor camps…I do love children, but never again)

Last summer I was a day camp leader for a local rec centre.  It was great, but I think that was my first and last "camp" summer.  Like my painted arms and legs?

Last summer I was a day camp leader for a local rec centre. It was great, but I think that was my first and last “camp” summer. Like my painted arms and legs?

Many teachers I know actually do take on summer jobs (especially the younger, newer teachers).  Most of these teachers are either TOCs or have temporary contracts throughout the year, so in order to keep paying the rent and buying groceries, a summer job is essential.  Some of my new teacher friends’ jobs include, but are not limited to: serving (tips, tips, tips!), leading summer camps, coaching, painting houses, landscaping, and the like.  I admire these people.  Today is my second day of summer vacation and I am exhausted, recovering from the lamest cold I’ve had all year, and I can not even imagine being a camp leader this year.  *Note: For the past six years my husband and I have lived off of one income (his). I am fortunate to have a spouse who is not a teacher and who works all year round; without his income, I’d definitely be working this summer.

I am curious about other teachers out there…do you work in the summer? If so, what kind of jobs do you take on?

How do you manage to unwind and rejuvenate from the busy school year, and plan for next year, while continuing to work your summer job?

And, how do YOU respond to people who say: “Two whole months off? Nice life!”?

One summer I might have to take on a summer job to keep the cash flowing, but for now I am excited to kick back and learn French! School starts in two days!



4 thoughts on “Summer Jobs for Teachers

  1. Teaching is an every day job. The continuous reflection, observation, creation of ideas and lessons, etc. is ongoing.

    To those who perceive the 2 months off as “cool! wow! you’re lucky! that must be nice…” or other, I’d hope that they would understand that a rejuvenated teacher is better for students than a teacher who is tired, burnt out, cranky, overwhelmed, etc.

    Time to pull oneself together is essential (even if it’s just 5 minutes or a weekend, or a random school holiday). Time to slow down and understand what is needed for students is key.

    After all, teachers are teaching humans and those humans are one day running the world. I’d rather have healthy, balanced, compassionate, wise teachers teaching my children than teachers who are frustrated, without support, etc.

    I’ve been both of those teachers (rested and exhausted) and now that I have a 7-month old, I hope that her teachers will be able to take time for themselves before and during the school year, after all…those teachers are human, too.

  2. Kelly Gallagher says that summers are a time to work on the craft of teaching, and I agree. During the year, we’re so busy with the day-to-day stuff — planning, grading, meetings, calling parents, going to games, working concession stands, etc., etc. — that we don’t have time to reflect, or read up on new theories, methods, etc., or do our own reading and writing (essential for English teachers like me, at least). So even though I’m not at work in the summer, I’m still working.

    As for what to say to the “must be nice” comments…it depends on how well I know the person. And how annoyed I am. Usually, I just smile and nod…it’s not worth a confrontation. But if the person is really being a snark, and I’m grumpy, sometimes I’ll snark back with something like, “I also have a Master’s degree and make all of $30,000 a year.” That usually shuts ’em up. 🙂

  3. I roll my eyes and agree to people that make comments like that now! I’ve given up with tales of working 14/15 hour days and attending parents evenings, rehearsals, school trips during the holidays and everything else that goes with the title of being a teacher! Even the trips to the Supermarket I make which then end up with whispered giggles and kids trying to sneak a peak in my trolley!
    I don’t ‘work’ in the Summer, although always have some freelance ‘projects’ on the go, or am looking to increase my subject knowledge for my teaching post. I don’t lay out sunbathing for the whole Summer holiday like everybody seems to think us teachers do!!!
    The end of the teaching year is definitely a much needed break , mentally more than anything before we take a big breath on September 1st and plough straight into next year’s intake of students!
    Enjoy your summer vacation! 🙂

  4. Pingback: re-thinking children | A shallow thinker

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s