Teacher Talk: Why I’m Working Over the Summer After My First Year Teaching

photo of foot steps on sandPhoto by Roman Kraft via Unplash.com

“You might not think you’ll need the summer off after your first year of teaching, but trust me, you will.”

I received this well-meaning advice from a third-year teacher on a panel of new educators, and it made me feel pretty relieved. We all know teaching is demanding work, and as someone who’s had a demanding summer job (teaching at a preschool) for four years, I really really really didn’t want to keep working myself hard for the entire year.

The solution, however, wasn’t to stop working for 2 months entirely. I’m not a person who does well over long breaks. I often screw up my sleep, feel depressed, and fail to motivate myself to do meaningful work (like planning for the next school year) if I don’t have structure. 

The reason I don’t feel inconvenienced by working over the summer is because I found a job that a) isn’t demanding on my time and b) I actually, in many ways, really like. I’m working at the same place I worked last summer, as a TA and tutor for introductory writing courses at my alma mater. It’s 4-6 hours per weekday (and 2 hours on Sundays) and pays a stipend of $3,000. I still have freedom to take summer classes required for my county as well as travel on weekends and at the end of the summer (see you soon, Iceland!). It feels good to know that I’ll increase my gross income from $49,000 to $52,000, and to take some pressure off of myself to put money aside for summer, since I haven’t been the most disciplined about this in my first year of teaching (shhhhhh, don’t tell my blog readers).

My personal philosophy, then, is not to continue grinding year-round in the name of making more money (if this is you, however, I suggest you lean into it!). Instead, it’s about making sure I’m doing something I enjoy and I make a fair return on investment for my time and energy. It’s worth the money, but mostly for the peace of mind. 

I can’t say I’ll work over the summer every year, but this year I know it’s the right move for me. I expect I’ll work in some capacity every summer, though I may switch up what jobs I choose to do. I know a lot of teachers do fun jobs, like working at a summer camp, to decompress from the year and still make money. This is something I can definitely see myself doing in the future. 

Teachers, do you work over the summer? Let me know why or why not in the comments below or on Twitter @wrachelwrites.

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4 comments

  1. I have been teaching for 14 years now, and every summer I work! It keeps me from going crazy!!! I have waitressed, done special needs programs, and created an introductory Kindergarten summer program (I teach K).

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