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I think we should require teachers to work through the summer months and pay them for it. Do you agree? The Edublogger

I’ve been watching in awe and admiration of the teacher walk-outs around the US as we grapple with the results of decades of underfunding (and a more recent all-out attack) of our public schools.

In my home state of Texas, we can only hope the movement will impact us tangentially, as it is illegal for educators here to strike in any way. Doing so would result in giving up teaching certifications and any retirement benefits already earned. Scary stuff.

For years I’ve been pondering one idea that I believe if implemented, would raise teacher pay, improve quality of life, and better recruit and retain educators. It wouldn’t be easy and popular with everyone, but given the current climate, perhaps this is worth a public debate. So here goes…

I think we should require teachers to work through the summer months and pay them for it.

We wouldn’t need to significantly increase daily rates (though we should consider that too), but instead, we pay teachers for more days.

For example, here in Austin, a first-year teacher works 187 days a year (officially) and makes $47,257. We all know everyone, especially a first-year teacher, puts in more unpaid days anyway.

Add the summer months in, to 230 paid days a year, and that would take the annual salary to $58,123. We could go even higher with days worked which would raise the pay more – in the US, the average employee outside of education works 260 days per year.

At a minimum, that would make 43 additional days where teachers wouldn’t be teaching. That means 43 days where the professional could grow as an educator, contribute back to the field, write and improve lesson plans, create assessments, and prepare for the year ahead.

All of that planning time would mean that during the school year, teachers would have much of the planning already done and at the ready. We could also give back more time to teachers during the school year with fewer meetings, professional development, and paperwork, which could be done on paid days without students.

I might be strung up for this, but I might even propose we pay teachers to work during all or part of fall, winter, and spring breaks too. With the trade-off being significantly less time taken away from them during the instructional days. Let’s give teachers back their nights and weekends! They’ll be better teachers as a result.

But how do we pay for this?

I’m just the blogger here, so I don’t have all the answers. But I do have some thoughts:

First, no longer allow teachers to miss instructional days for professional development. We spend a lot of money on substitute teachers for this – and everyone, especially students, suffers as a result. PD, data days, and collaboration pull-outs should ONLY be on paid days where students aren’t in. Substitutes should be reserved for days when teachers are sick or have personal days.

Second, the real savings could come from allowing the teachers to be the professionals that they truly are. This might be controversial, but if given more time, teachers won’t need anywhere near the number of coaches, facilitators, trainers, and programs that we spend billions of dollars on each year. Certainly, collaboration and EdCamp style PD is important and should be required. But if teachers have the time to create curricula and assessments, we won’t need to pay the giant publishing corporations for them. The expertise is there – we treat teachers as professionals and not robots. We also won’t need the number of non-teaching school and district employees that currently implement and manage these services. With more paid time on their hands, teachers will be just fine.

Won’t this cause more problems than it solves?

For some, maybe. Some teachers won’t like giving up their summers – and some may have more lucrative summer gigs they’d miss out on. Others will be financially burdened even more with childcare costs and will miss the time home with their own kids. I get that. Schools are pretty good at taking care of children, so maybe schools could work something out with their teachers as a benefit with programs to help take care of their kids on non-instructional days.

I’d also suggest a discussion to allow for some teacher paid days to be remote or on their own time and schedule. This would provide teachers perks like much of the professional and business world (and saving schools money on heating/air and other operational costs).

Most agree, teachers are generally overworked and don’t have the spare time they need. By paying teachers for more work days, we can help both with increasing teacher pay and improving the daily life of teachers during the school year – with the ultimate goal of improving the learning experiences of students that teachers serve.

What do you think? Has this been tried before or is it in place somewhere? I’d love to hear about it!

Should we require teachers to work through the summer months and pay them for it?

 

About Ronnie Burt

Manages the Edublogs, CampusPress, and WPMU DEV Hosting services. Former secondary math teacher and wannabe musician. Follow @ronnieburt on twitter!

55 Comments

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  1. What about a 45 week school year with 4-day weeks? Four days could be for instruction, and the fifth day could be for teacher planning and preparation.

    • I love this idea! I just worry about a solution for where the kids go and what they do with parents that will be working on Friday.

  2. They need to legalize teacher strikes in Texas because they have a right to speak out.

  3. The United States Federal, State, and Local governments invest BILLIONS of dollars into the k-12 public education system. The trouble is not lack of funds, it is how the funds are being distributed/spent. Requiring teachers to work through the summer is not a viable solution for many reasons, but I’d like to point out two:

    1. Financial impact: you are suggesting an estimated 10k “raise”; but, when you consider taxable income and costs such as childcare, how much of a benefit would summer teaching (working) be for teachers who have school aged children? Raising the tax burden on teachers without increasing the benefit is irresponsible. In California, high school teachers on average make just over 120k in small districts and in large districts just over 145k.

    2. Why do we value our teachers so little that we barely pay them a living wage? The people we entrust the education of our future to, we pay like fast food workers; why is that? Why should teachers work even harder for the pay they deserve?

    We can increase teacher pay by independent audits of school spending; checks and balances. Reel in wasteful spending and use that money instead to raise the salary of our educators.

  4. I’ve been thinking about this for about a week now, and I’ve decided that your proposition doesn’t actually increase teacher pay. All your doing is asking teachers to work more, but you’re not increasing their pay–you’re paying them the same rate and requiring more work.
    I know you’re talking about paying teachers for work they’re going to do over the summer anyway, and that’s not a bad start, but it’s certainly not increasing teacher pay–it’s offering additional paid days.

  5. Pay them for their holidays too, don’t make them sacrifice their recovery time for more pay, pay them properly to begin with. Also if you want evidence of how more non-contact time for planning improves results, just take a look at Scandanavia, where contact time can be as little as 25% and planning 75%. This policy has provided some of the highest achievement rates in the world.

  6. I’d like to see our school take a small step toward this by offering teachers ten paid days over the summer to do the work you suggest. Many of us are in our rooms in the summer anyway, why not get paid for it? Some of the best professional development days we ever get us when we’re simply allowed to work in out classrooms. This just makes too much sense to me.

  7. I’m a career-changer and have been teaching 8th grade language arts for 5 years. I think this is a serious idea that merits a lot of consideration – as does ‘looping’. We spend lots of energy building relationships with our 8th graders, creating safe environments for them to experiment with being authentic with themselves and others – then we launch them into a new campus with a new and complex set of academic and social expectations. Wouldn’t it be wise to consider following them across the transition?

  8. My concern with this is that it sends the message that in order for us to get paid more we should be required to work more at school. I know you understand that we are working more already and that we should just get paid for it, but I’m working on my own time and my own schedule, whether that is nights, weekends, or PD opportunities or days in school during the summer. I don’t want to have to report to school more days to earn more money. I feel we deserve more money but should be just be paid that up front.

    My brother feels teachers get paid too much (I know, right?) and uses the argument that some teachers don’t do extra work. But that is the case in any field. There will always be some people who don’t tow the line but that is no reason that the rest of us should not get compensated appropriately. Let me keep my summers to use as I see as being most effective, but pay me what I deserve.

  9. I have been a camp counselor for ten years where I lifeguard and teach 3, 4 and 5 year olds how to swim. I begin three days after school ends and end five days before the school year starts again. I am exhausted, but….it is a good way to keep money in my pockets, keep my children occupied and keep me from spending. I live in a beach community so I wouldn’t travel if I had the summers off. Plus it’s the kind of work you can actually leave and go home and rest.
    I look forward to the time when I can do as I choose and not work so hard but I appreciate what it has done for me.

  10. I am a teacher and I have been saying this for years.

  11. It’s a shame
    to see the second richest economy of the world (and the first per inhabitant), treating so the future of its population …
    It’s also difficult to understand for an European that the U.S. citizens had allowed all this laws against the teachers rights, and workers rights in general …
    But the saddest is that Europe is on the same way …
    Good Luck to us all.

  12. Food for thought…
    One of the attractions of teaching Is having flexibility during the holidays. However, most teachers work through the holidays anyway – this is when they do planning for the next term or year or write reports. My calculations are that we only really get about 20 days off.
    So I would be happy to get paid for what I do out of my own time. So long as that time is not filled with extra work and regulated as it is already full.

    We also work many evenings and weekends – maybe we should also get a paid overtime?

    A further difficulty we have is having to pay premium prices for travelling as the only time we can travel is during school holidays when accommodation and altransport costs are at their hoghest.

  13. At this time, I am not in favor of working during the summer months. However, I would be in favor of the school system adding one hour to the work day in exchange for higher pay.
    This would allow schools to offer an evening meal and supplemental academic support to students.

  14. NIce read and I understand were you’re coming from.
    As, an Special Education Teacher, I attend PD and other trainings during the summer to become a better teacher. As a team we meet over the summer to map out the first grading period (six weeks), checkpoints, and make assessments. I (we) need this time ( the summer and other breaks) to regroup and reenergize.

  15. As a retired middle school science, intro to engineering, and journlism teacher, SOME summer break was necessary for recovery from the intensity of the school year. As teachers, we are “ON” for the full school day. There is no let up. Even finding time for a potty break is difficult. I spent 6 years as a computer systems analyst midway in my teaching career, having taken a 6 year break from teaching. I never felt while working in industry that I needed ‘recovery time’ as I did when working in the classroom, in my case with a teaching load of 30+ middle school students per class, and teaching 6 classes a day. I think I averaged about 2 hours per night working on planning or reviewing student work. I attempted to make my science, and engineering and journalism classes at list 70% lab/hands on which required a lot of preparation of ‘real stuff’. While in industry I didn’t crave summer vacation or even days off, other than for the benefit of family time. In industry I Did not need rest and recovery. My wife was a K-1 teacher and her 20-30 students required 100% of her attention for the school day, and at least 3 hours of preparation each day as well. Weekends saw at least another 6 hours devoted to preparation for the next week. She need a summer break as well as the mid year breaks of Christmas and Easter to regain strength!

  16. As a retired Canadian teacher. I always looked forward to my summer holidays. In B.C. a seasoned teacher would make Between $60,000to $80,000. I had my Masters so I made the top salary. I didn’t have to work another job to supplement my teaching. We also had the right to strike. I did that a few times for about 6 weksover a 27 year career. I heard horror stories about teachers in the US. It’s unfortunate that certain states don’t pay well. I went to university for 6 years, I felt I deserve my salary. Hopefully, work conditions would improve with good negotiations.

  17. Hi. Very interesting reading. I am in Australia and we get paid all year. There are 12 weeks holidays for students. This included 6 weeks over Christmas and New Year. Most teachers would work from home during our 2 week breaks between terms as we are not expected to come in to school. The Christmas break is where the admin. people say we receive our 4 week annual leave time. A first year teacher here in the public system starts on $68,000 AUD.

  18. Thank you for your very interesting article, Mr Burt. I can see by the number of responses that this is a very emotional and complex topic for educators.
    I believe some of your points have merit, however, I am yet to understand how working over summer (which is consistently done by teachers across the world anyway) will free up time during the year.

    During the year, (in Australia) many teachers plan for every day changes to the curriculum – spending non-contact time doing this so students stay engaged, set up group tasks for the following day, write report cards, monitor student behaviour, attend case meetings for special needs students, keep daily records of behaviour incidences, get to personally KNOW every student to cater for individual needs, do playground duty (meaning a loss of lunch times), take on extra-curricular activities before/after school, conduct parent/teacher interviews in their own time and buy resources for the classroom, which is usually paid for it out of their own pocket – this is all outside of the teaching hours they do. (Let’s not even go there with the lack of bathroom stops during the day…)

    As someone pointed out, it is an ART and it is done out of LOVE.

    Therefore, I am unsure of how the day to day/weekly running of a classroom with formative assessment and marking added in, is able to be bundled into summer – especially for those who take on extra summer jobs to make the extra dollars teaching doesn’t provide.

    I won’t talk about how teachers need their holidays (we ALL need holidays), but the reward of being able to have those holidays is a benefit for the pay scale which does not compensate for the number of out of work hours many teachers conduct when they should be caring about their own children or their own well being.

    Having been in education for over 30 years and worked in 3 countries, teaching teachers, I have seen many changes in all aspects of education from Primary to Tertiary level. The concept of teachers working over summer is not new and is slowly creeping further and further into existence and being labeled as extra Pupil Free Days. The PFD’s we HAVE to have!

    Research tells us that in Australia, about 40 to 50 percent of our newest teachers leave within their first five years on the job.

    Perhaps we should be looking at how to keep our teachers (especially our wonderful, hard working, talented ones), instead of how to make them work more…

    Just thoughts and I’ll jump off my soapbox now!! 🙂

    Have a great day everyone and thank you to all our amazing teachers who do so much for so many of the young people in the world.

  19. The idea is a good one, but how are state’s going to find extra money when they don’t have enough money as is? Raise taxes? That will go over big.

    • I think there are a lot of inefficiencies in school systems that could help pay for this. But yes, states have been funding less and less of their share in recent years – that has to change.

  20. I’d say this suggestion comes from someone not living the life of a teacher.

    • You’d be wrong – while not currently living the life of a teacher, I certainly have and remember it well.

    • An article a couple of years ago in our local paper [The Chicago Sun-Times] stated that the average teacher works the equivalent of 40 hours per week — 52 weeks a year. We do that over roughly 10 months.

      That’s the equivalent of no days off.

      I use the summer break to clean my house just as I use Christmas break to shop for, wrap, and celebrate Christmas. What this blog describes isn’t paying people more so much as paying them to increase their work load.

      I pray this is kind of plan is not implemented — my family won’t know me and I’ll never have clean, ironed clothes.

      • Concerned IL teacher
  21. Myth vs Reality:

    The myth that teachers don’t work during the summer fuels this ludicrous idea. I already work most of the summer as a teacher, mostly with no pay. What people don’t understand about teaching is that we get paid a daily rate for approximately 187 days (depends on state), but we actually work year-round on “teacher” jobs. Last year alone, I tracked my extra hours over the requisite 8 hour day, and I actually worked an extra 90 days over my contracted days with no extra pay. This did NOT include the mandated summer workshops, training or or other hours or requirements.

    If you increase the “summer” hours, then that will also take time away from workshops, outside mandated training, creative and innovative time, and it would provide administration a means to continue to require “extra duties with no pay” while taking away crucial planning and curriculum building time. Some teachers also work at other jobs during the summer that pay triple what they can make in the classroom, for many less hours. So, requiring teachers to “work summers” implies that they are not already working.

    The real answer to the problem would be to simply pay teachers for what they really do, for the hours they really work, and for the quality education we provide for students, and pay the teachers for nurturing, fostering, caring and teaching future generations and citizens who will lead and make this country better.

    • That’s not true at all – I’m well aware that teachers work over the summer. I certainly did when I was teaching. I’m suggesting teachers be paid for that work, and that in turn would raise the average income of teachers. A win/win.

      What you describe would be the result of terrible school administration and management. I don’t believe that describes most school administrators out there – not my experience anyway.

      • What the writer describes is reality.

        • Concerned IL teacher
  22. No.
    There’s summer school for a reason, and it’s over time and optional pay.
    Don’t teach in a state that doesn’t allow teachers to strike without taking licenses and pensions away.
    Don’t teach in states that don’t pay teachers livable wages.
    I work in New York with a masters degree in my second year making $65K and I refuse to teach in a state that would ever pay me less than $60k.
    I’m not entitled, I’ve worked for my masters degree, I’ve earned those summers off to rest and recouperate from a difficult school year. If I want to teach summer school it’s an option and I’ll make $45 an hour for over time on top of my base salary.
    So no.
    Pay teachers, or don’t expect people to teach.

    • I’m very happy that you have the luxury of choosing the state where you teach – many don’t. Also, there are students that need quality teachers in all states.

      • While I realize that there’s a mantra out there:
        You get what you pay for.
        If you don’t want to pay for good teachers, you will lose good teachers.
        Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE in our profession isn’t doing it for the money, because we have the biggest hearts… we love the kids, we love what we do, but hate the stuff that comes from admin, and politicians. We fight for our kids but over the years we forgot to fight for ourselves as well.
        Honestly if you don’t own any property in any particular state it’s not impossible to get a license in another state since there are testing centers everywhere. I have like 3 licenses to teach in 3 different states (all in the north east for a reason… only California will pay me what I want outside of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.) it’s time to put our feet down and demand what we rightfully work for!
        Yea all states have kids that need teachers, but like i said before: you get what you pay for.
        If you wanna pay for poor quality teachers because they’re cheap you’re gonna have a poor quality education system. Plain and simple the solution isn’t to extend our working schedule.

        • I agree. I taught internationally, and good teachers can find work anywhere. We need to value ourselves as much as we value our students. We are role models for these young minds.

    • I agree, I had to move out of my home to get a job. So qualified teachers who can’t work for low wages should move to another state. Maybe if enough teachers did this the government would start paying teachers a living wage. Our children is our future it only behoove us not to give respect and a good salary for teachers.

  23. In New Zealand, full time teachers are paid during the school breaks/vacations. We aren’t compelled to do any structured work, but most of us take school sports and academic trips, attend conferences, and use the time for planning and marking, and getting refreshed!
    I’m astonished that this is not the case in the US, and am pretty sure that Australia and most European countries follow the same practise.

    • Hi Tony – it is similar in the US. But technically we are paid for the number of days that we officially work. That pay is then just equally spread out over 12 months.

  24. No. I’m sorry, but I don’t see this working out well at all, and not just because I’m attached to my summers.

    The thing is, I wouldn’t know what to do with 43 (minimum) days of work in the summer. You can only change your curriculum so much as a classroom teacher, unless there are sweeping changes at the district level. Education is such a dynamic field that 95% of the changes a teacher makes on a year-by-year basis are based entirely on the make-up of that specific class of students. I may try a certain project with a certain class of students because I know they’re more technologically savvy, whereas the next year I may change that, but I don’t know until I’ve worked with the students. Summers don’t help me there.

    Where I see this going, with many teachers–especially ones who aren’t as…”active” we’ll say–is a lot of time sitting in a classroom poking at a cell phone because they feel like they’ve done all they can for the next year. Professional development isn’t a substitute either. Teachers will start to go crazy when they’re sitting in their 80th hour of training in things they are already doing or consider “common sense.”

    I’ll also echo what another commenter said: your plan asks us to work on student holidays, but that’s not what we want to be paid for. We want to be paid for the work we take home EVERY night to grade, comment on, and revise our lesson plans to address. I shouldn’t dread assigning an essay in my writing class because I know that I’m going to have to grade them at home in my spare time over the next week.

    Want to know how to raise our pay? Indirectly. Better subsidies for health insurance, so I don’t have to pay $900 a month for my family to have insurance. Or how about a tax break for educators in public schools, so they don’t have to pay school district taxes (~$3500 a year where I am), talk about an incentive for recruiting, too!

    The problem is simply that it’s a low priority to the government right now. That’s why these protests are taking root.

    • The fact that you are compelled to take work home each night is proof of a broken system – that sort of requirement isn’t sustainable and results in a lot of the best teachers leaving the profession. I’m not a fan of most PD, but there is so much in a school that a teacher’s voice contributing to in the summer would make big improvements. As an alternative, I’m a big advocate of teachers having less required student face time in a day and more time for planning/grading. But that’s a battle I think is never winnable. But paying teachers for a few extra weeks in the summer (for work many are already doing anyway) might help solve many problems?

    • I agree with a lot of what you say here, Gregg. Although I would love to get paid over the summer to “make up for” what I already do during the year, the administration couldn’t measure work I do unless there are required days on campus, which many commenters are strongly opposed to.

  25. There are many school systems that have a year-round option that is appealing as well. Go for 9 weeks, take 3 off. That would incorporate what you propose, but with a twist as you would have the same students coming back to you and your plans would be catered to that group. Massive planning over the summer only works if you have previously assessed your incoming students – something that never happens. But if a year-round approach were implemented then teachers could use parts of the 3 weeks without students to plan, create assessments, etc. That is also a more realistic schedule for students to grow up in – the “real world” doesn’t allow for summers off.

    • Theresa Connor
    • I really like that! Students being on break, but teachers being paid to work through at least part of that break. Would probably be more productive than big chunks in the summers for sure.

  26. The average worker does NOT work 260 days a year since they earn paid vacation time (a perk teachers don’t earn) . For example my brother is now paid 4 weeks of vacation time.

    In addition many teachers go back to school to earn credits they need to maintain their credentials.

    Your idea has major flaws.

    • Well, looking at it again, that 260 day number might be a little high. I got it from the US Government Office Of Personel Management (https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/pay-administration/fact-sheets/computing-hourly-rates-of-pay-using-the-2087-hour-divisor/) and a few other websites, but I see now that it might be more the number of work days in a year, not days worked. Still, I suggested 230 days, which is 46 weeks – still a few weeks less than most people work in a year – like your brother. Perhaps 220 days or something – that would still provide a higher annual salary for teachers and help cover the actual time/days most teachers work. That’s my ultimate point.

      • You forget that some high paying jobs you leave work go home and the next day pick up where you left off. Teaching you go home take a break then do some schoolwork so you are ready the next day. Then it has been a10-12 hour day plus 4 hours either Sat or Sun.

  27. No the teachers need the break

  28. As a 67 year old that graduated with a teaching degree in 1972, I was interested in your comments. Education remains on the back burner as it always has been. Many ideas but very little implementation of merit. I did not teach but was employed with American Airlines as a flight attendant for 29 years. During those many years I substituted and recently spent 4 weeks in my daughter’s HISD 3rd grade classroom everyday due to her health issues. The school was 95 % Hispanic…$15,000 yearly encome. The principal spoke NO Spanish and the facility was prison like with rat feces on her desk. Many of the teachers were on green cards. I listened in the hallway during state testing to a 2nd grade teacher yelling constantly…he was retiring that year. My daughter would inherit his students the following school year. There are to many outrageous concerns for me to continue . There was very little parent involvement in this school. Inner city schools like my daughter’ s were not celebrated by teachers. No amount of increase of salary for those teachers would have made any differences. Too many teachers both new and older have not enough skills to cope with kids. It is an ART to be a good teacher and the LOVE of kids must be there. Paretnts have to be engaged and they are not accountable. Most of the elitist politicians and people who promote the quick fix is “money” do not have there children in public schools.I had one daughter that was a 5O4 student including thru college and sat across from numerous counselors I can tell you too many stories of curriculum flaws. The other daughter …an AP student I have been on both sides of education. Yes, both girls had great teachers but many that just were there in this upper class schools just buying time. By the way the bell curve was the same in both my daughter’s school as it was in the upper class school district my children attended. My husband and I had plenty of tudors my one daughter and Inignored the principal when she told me my younger daughter should be ok with C’s and probably no college. Crazy…but she went on to Texas A&M and graduated with a 3.4. So what do I see needs to changed. Parent accountability, the curriculum is boring too often, student accountability, teachers need more help with communicating with classroom…it is an ART! To be honest teaching and hanging out with kids no matter what the age is difficult and most parents can barely handle it. Money ….everyone wants to make more money. My company had a strike which did nothing but hurt morale and bankruptcy followed. Trade schools and not just the mantra that everyone need to go to college is outdated. Personalities for this very difficult career should be evaluated first. Thank you for this format to communicate. I would love to see education change ASAP because every citizen should expect better educated people and it is not happening.

    • I agree with you 100%. I am a 1st grade teacher with 2 autistic, 4 ADHD & 1 with a learning disability. No aide because outs not in the budget and expected to pull a rabbit out of a hat when my preps are almost none due to continual catching students up. My home life with my family is either taken from me or I have to be behind on something at work. The juggle is hard. I wish I got paid to just plan my lessons with fidelity instead of wiping something out of the TE. I have so many ideas, but no time to plan them. When I can, it doesn’t always happen as planned because of the lack of help in my room. I think teachers have to genuinely love the field and stop at nothing to make sure these babies get the proper education they need. I think there should be some kind of psychological test given you teachers to see if there is even a passion anymore to teach. I plan on teaching till I die. I love education. I’d been a love since I was 13, but not all are like me. I don’t do it for the money. I’m tired, but will not quit. I’d sure love the extra time (and money) to plan better lessons that are super engaging. I’d love to invite parents to come and participate, but the lack of responsibility on some is ridiculous. There should be a parent report card on involvement or something so that they are forced to be parents and actually be involved. I have a handful of parents that care and I love them for it, but what about the ones that say they care, but don’t even know why their kid is failing? It’s hard being an educator that is trying to convey messages and parents are ignoring them, but is your fault their kid isn’t passing. Somethings gotta give.

  29. Before you ask me to work the summer months, which many of us already do, please give me time during the week to grade the essays I collect. I work 60-70 hours per week during the school year. I spend my summer going to Teacher conferences on my own dime, revamping and tweaking lesson plans, and hoping my district doesn’t throw some new items on my desk that have to be worked into my lessons.
    Yes, paid holidays(Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day) would be nice.
    Give me more paid time during the week.

    • I agree! My thought was that working/planning/PD in the summer would, in theory, give you back more time during the school year for grading, etc. Teacher planning/prep time during the school year should be protected at all cost.

      • In theory, yes, I would have more time. But each class is different and needs different things. I teach 12th graders and find the gaps in their knowledge of grammar, usage, and mechanics vary widely. Over the summer I am able to plan for what I predict will be necessary.
        I already spend my time over the summer doing what you suggest I be paid for: planning and PD.
        I still have 110 essays to grade every three weeks for one course starting with Day 3 when students write their first diagnostic 2-3 page essay.
        In addition I have two co-taught classes with IEP’s and 504’s for which I need to adjust course content and delivery method to meet various needs.
        The extra 30 hours a week does not go away.
        Even an extra 45-minute planning period per day is a drop in the bucket.

  30. I was telling other teachers this exact idea. I love it. Give me summers, pay me, and let’s give me and my peers time to make the year fantastic.

  31. My first thought was you want me to give up my summer! No way! However, you make some very valid points and I often wish I had more time to prep and plan. I often do a great deal of planning over the summer, so being paid for something I’m already doing would be great. I would like to know more on how one might implement planning and prep days without students. Would this be only during the summer or throughout the school year? Great ideas. I would love to see some movement on your ideas.

  32. Mr. Burt,

    I’ve taught middle school Language Arts and History, grades 6, 7, and 8, for the last 24 years, with an inner-city clientele. The teachers I work with are absolutely exhausted at this time of the year, April 30th. I cannot imagine them or myself working through most of the summer. In fact, if my district went to such a schedule, I would get out of teaching and do something else to make a living.
    I like your idea of paying teachers for holidays; I had this benefit in jobs before teaching. But most teachers could not take two more months with their students.
    For those who have never taught imagine this. Take 32 middle schoolers into your living room, and try to teach them Language Arts and History. It’s like that for me every day. Then add apathetic students, that work harder at avoiding their work, coupled with the worst work ethic you have ever seen. Mix in many behavior problems, IEP students, and absent or unsupportive parents, (Not all!) and you will understand why teachers need a break to rest and recharge.

    John M. Northern California

    • John McHatton
    • Hi John, I appreciate your comment and fully expected many teachers to feel the same way. I taught middle school only 25% of the number of years as you, and I understand. My expectation is that work in the summer would also allow for recharge, though in different ways. I also fully believe that the best way to decrease the behavior problems and student apathy that you describe are high quality and engaging lesson plans, projects, and learning experiences – which I know that when I was teaching I didn’t have anywhere near as much time as I needed to fully achieve.

    • Amen. Summers are precious to me, and the same is true for many of my students. Camps, creative projects, jobs, and good old daydreaming — kids need time away from school, and it’s valuable for teachers too.

      Besides, every American needs more vacation time. Article 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees every person leisure time.

      Please do not take my summers away.

      • I think you and John both missed where I suggest students still have the full summer off, but teachers have more paid work time in the summers (which would result in freeing up time, including leisure time, during the school year).

        • I think the reason you are getting some different responses to this is because not all teaching jobs are the same. What I see here is that the English teachers are the most affronted by the idea, and I understand how they feel. Over the years, I have taught English, reading, journalism and government. I decided a couple of years ago that I would not teach a full load of English ever again. It’s no exaggeration the hours put in to grade essays. I hardly would see my own kids when I had stacks of essays to grade. I would try to just do it at work (go in early, stay late) but there are so many distractions, and you need that time to tutor. So I would take papers to my son’s football practices, or take them with me to work on as I sat in the car waiting for my daughter to get out of band practice; basically it was getting to the point that I would take my work anywhere I had to be, just in case I had a few extra minutes to get something done. Working over the summer won’t change that at all, and because of that stress (in addition to all the other stressors involved with teaching) I need at least some of that time over the summer to recuperate.

          I also agree that full planning can’t happen until you know your students. I know what I have to teach, I have hundreds of lesson ideas, most fully formed, but every year, I still have to adjust almost every lesson to my new students, sometimes even from class to class.

          The only idea that looks promising here is the year-round model. I lived in California growing up, and there were schools that ran that way. Kids would still have some of the weeks off during summer, and could go to camp, etc. during that time. I could definitely see this working where I live now, in Phoenix, where the summer is so hot that kids are stuck inside most of the time anyway.