To Summer School or Not to Summer School?

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Every year, as the school year draws to a close, I have to decide if I am going to take on a summer job.

Naturally, I gravitate toward teaching, as this is my specialty. There’s also the better pay (compared to other seasonal jobs), and relatively easy transition, as I have done this kind of work before. I am horrible at food service, way past it for waitress-ing or bar tending, and retail work is difficult to find in the summer unless you are a teen or a college student.

Summer Camp work has appealed to me in the past, as I enjoy nature. However, I still have family obligations, and need to stay close to home. I’ve even looked into trade jobs, such as artistic or writing opportunities. These latter choices are still a remote possibility, but competition is high, and I only have a few months to spare.

Because I opted to spread my pay so I continue to have income in the summer, I don’t necessarily have to work. But the lure of extra income is hard to deny. I also like to stay busy, at least part-time.

Many folks I know think it is awesome (or unfair, depending on who you ask) that teachers have “summers off”. What they do not realize is, this is also the time for professional development, and many teachers use the time off as an opportunity to update their knowledge and skills. Since I do this nearly year-round, I am not short on PD hours. But I usually take advantage of learning opportunities anyway, as summer where I live is long, hot, and boring, especially since I can scarce afford to leave town.

There are volunteer opportunities as well: Boys and Girls Clubs, for example (I’ve done this one), and other community outreach opportunities, especially in the impoverished areas of my city, of which there are many. Giving back in some way appeals to me, so I may do this anyway.

There is also the issue of working with children…which I do enjoy…but do I wish to do it almost year-round? I’ve considered tutoring adults, particularly refugee and immigrants, in English. I am more likely to get this opportunity in the summer, especially if I do so as a volunteer.

Many teachers enjoy the time off to relax and regroup, and if they do work, they try to do something that is not directly linked with teaching, or even with children. There is also something to be said for distancing oneself from what you are used to, branching out or even stepping back.

I started filling out the application for summer school, noting that it was just about as long a process as when I applied for my last teaching job. I am not usually one to turn my back on a difficult and lengthy task, but I had to ask myself: Is the effort worth a month and a half of work? There are 28 positions and hundreds applying.

It’s only Spring and there are two more months of school. I’m tired now! But I’m more exhausted thinking about what to do this summer…so maybe I will let sleeping dogs lie for a while.

One thought on “To Summer School or Not to Summer School?

  1. Addendum: Well, I went ahead and did it. I just cannot resist an opportunity to teach in a new venue, even for a short time. And, I cannot say it was without its drama and pitfalls. But it was still “an experience”. It was a challenging group, too…first 5th graders I had to deal with in a few years. But it was worth it when even one of them said “I like this class. It is a lot less confusing than my real one during the school year—too loud, too many kids.”
    Yes! (raises fists in the air, triumphantly).


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