Do Teachers Really Get Summers Off?

Summer break has rolled in for most school districts by now, and students around the country are celebrating. Teachers too, no doubt. After a long year, they deserve to take a beat and get some rest before gearing up for a new crop of students in the fall. But, do teachers really get summers off? The answer may surprise you. Here are some things to keep in mind about teachers and summer vacation.

empty beach chairs

(Photo Credit: pavlinajane/Flickr)

1. Teachers aren’t compensated for the summer months.

Even the teachers who don’t work in the summer aren’t really on vacation the way some think they are. Teachers are paid, and contracted, for the months that school is open. It’s part of the reason that teachers make less than other professionals. In other words, teachers aren’t enjoying a paid vacation in the summer; instead, they have a job that runs nine months a year.

2. Working in a profession that runs on this kind of schedule is actually pretty inconvenient.

Imagine if your job only ran nine months a year. Now imagine reducing your salary by 25 percent. Would that be enough to live on? Would you take those three months off, or would you need to try to find another job? Most teachers find that they do need to fill their summer hours with other employment, but this isn’t always easy. Finding employment for just three months at a time is tricky – especially when you have to arrange for it during a busy school year.

3. Teachers are expected to further their education and training over the summer.

Most districts require teachers to attend classes, workshops, etc., in order to stay current in their field. Many teachers opt to do at least some of this work over the summer so that it doesn’t take away from their focus on the classroom during the school year.

It’s essential that teachers have some time built into their year where they can dive into their professional development goals. It’s challenging to do a ton of this during the year, so most embrace the chance to dig in over summer.

“I personally enjoy the academic rigor of a course [and] I like learning new things,” says Joe Elorriaga, a special education teacher from New York, at US News. “And then there’s another element that as an NYC DOE teacher, if you acquire 30 or more credits above your master’s degree, you get a pay increase.”

Whether continuing their education comes with a pay increase or not, most teachers feel it is their duty to never stop learning and growing. Many occupy a great deal of their summer hours in pursuit of this goal.

4. An overwhelming majority of teachers work second jobs during the summer.

In order to make ends meet, most teachers DO work during the summer. About half work in the field of education in some capacity, and the rest find something different to do. Some work in the restaurant industry, or do seasonal work like getting a job with a lawn care company or doing house painting. The point is, although teachers do get summers off from their teaching jobs, most can’t afford to stay home during those months. Instead, they work second jobs to supplement their teaching salaries.

5. They have to prepare for next year.

When you’re a kid, you don’t really stop and take the time to consider everything that goes into making the magical world of school happen – but, it take a lot. Coming up with a theme for the year, decorating, organizing, and restructuring the space to meet the needs of the next class, learning new technologies, recording, developing, honing curriculum … so much time and planning is required to make the school year happen. And, teachers do a lot of the prep work over the summer.

So, when you run into your child’s classroom teacher this summer, or when you see your friend who is an educator, please don’t say, “Oh, you’re so lucky you get summers off – must be nice!” Instead, show them that you know there’s a little more to it than that.

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