School vacation week in Massachusetts started for me as of 2:50 yesterday afternoon.
I know there are some in the private sector who will read that statement and disparage me. But here is why I not only need this vacation, I deserve it.
1. I am not paid for the days off. Contrary to popular opinion, teachers are paid to work a number of days per contract period. No one is counting next Monday through Friday in the day count. Hence, working the requisite 180 (actually it’s 181 in Lowell) days means we stop the clock on Monday at Day 106. The daily count will begin again on Monday February 22. So you see, taxpayers, you are not paying for my days off. My official work year (more of that word “official” later) will end whenever we hit 180 days.
2. Since we returned to school on January 4, I have put in 10 hour days 5 or more days a week. It takes planning and preparation to engage children in learning. What it takes for me is 4 hours daily on top of the time I am with the students. That’s not poor time management people. That’s the amount of time it takes to correct and analyze assessments, reset education goals – sometimes for each student, find resources to meet those needs, and then write the whole mess down using Language and Content objectives as required by my District.
3. Official work week of course in not any where close to the hours spent with students. “Officially”, I am not working during the summer. I am definitely not getting paid. In reality, I am taking courses that not only update my professional understandings but help me acquire the needed Professional Development Point to be relicensed every 5 years. And no, you can’t get PDPs for sitting by the pool or mowing the lawn. It takes about a week after the students leave to close out required paperwork. It also takes time to gear up for a new school year — I stopped counting last August after I’d spent 40 hours. It was too depressing.
4. The amount of paperwork, testing, reporting, etc. in any given time period during an academic year would bury most anyone I know. Every year there seems to be more of it. And I’m a classroom teacher – imagine the Special Education people who have legal documents to fill out! I’m pretty adept with a computer having worked with them since 1977 (no that’s not a typo). Even Excel can’t bail me out of time-sucking reports and data analysis.
I am exhausted and slept a record 10 hours last night. I’ll probably take a nap today. Maybe by Wednesday I’ll feel like a human again. And on Monday, I hope to meet my students with some renewed energy and the ability to pull of another round of 10 hour days.