If I hear one more person tell me the statement above I think I’m going to scream! First of all, very few of us are actually “off” during the summer. Many of us have second jobs to make ends meet, or we simply spend time in our regular classroom so we don’t live there during the school year. (Heaven forbid we take off our first summer in years to spend time with family, move, help out friends/family, and just enjoy a month or two “off” before starting up the insanity again!)
Now – I know what you’re thinking – why is she preaching this to us? We’re teachers – we get it! I know you do! But what should we say to those people who make comments such as these? Or what about the person who “compliments” you personally by saying, “I’m so glad you’re not like ‘normal’ teachers. You actually do something in the summers. You’re not lazy.” Um – thanks. While you think you may have complimented me, I feel like you just back-handed every other person around the world that loves this profession and feels a calling to go to work every day. Those are the people I call friends, and you just lumped them all into one category – lazy. That’s not alright in my book.
Or what during the summer months when you take a trip, people ask what you do, and you respond “I teach.” I can’t count how many times I then hear – “Must be nice to have your summers off!” Sometimes they say it with a smile on their faces, but oftentimes they are just flat out rude about it. It almost makes me want to lie about my profession, but yet that is not something I can do. I’m too honest, and I love teaching!
So what can we do?
Let’s start with a little math. I know there are different numbers all over, but I’m going to use the numbers that pertain to me.
180 contracted days (student contact days and inservice)
8 hours each day
So I’m contracted to work 1,440 hours each year. Not bad at all! HA! Let’s see how the numbers really pan out…
- Start with my 8 hours each day. 1440 hours all year
- But I also put in another 20 hours before school even starts just setting up my classroom. (All that “cute” stuff you see on open house night doesn’t just magically jump up on the walls!) 1460 hours all year
- And I put in another 10 days over the summer rearranging my classroom and files before I even actually start to set anything up 1540 hours all year
- I spent at least 20 hours reading professional books over the summer to help me become better at different skills. These are not required reading, but I do them because I want to get better at my job. 1560 hours all year
- Oh – let’s not forget the professional development that I’m required to take to keep my teaching license current. I average about two credits per year (30 hours), and my district and/or state often require something above and beyond what I’ve chosen to take. (another 30 hours) 1620 hours all year
- That still doesn’t seem so bad, but this is where the “real” numbers come into play. I don’t work eight hour days. I’m not a morning person, so I get to work right around 8 each day. However, I typically stay until 6. That’s another 360 hours throughout the year. 1980 hours all year
- And don’t forget about the hour of work I take home each night 2160 hours each year
- AND I typically put in another four hours each weekend – so at 36 weeks in a typical school year, or another 144 hours 2304 hours all year
And I know people who make the argument that doctors and lawyers work way more hours, and they’re right. However, I do believe they are compensated just a bit better than teachers are!
(Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my job! Teaching is a calling, and one I feel passionate about each day. I didn’t go into it thinking I would get rich! However, I get really sick of the people out there who bash us on a regular basis.)
So this, ladies and gents, leaves me with one last question – Why am I, or any other teacher, lazy??
Thank you for listening.