Teachers Get The Summer Off. Right?

One of the things critics of teachers often say is that we have easy hours. We get off early in the afternoon and we have the summers off. So, about that…
When I’m grading essays over the weekend, is that time off? If I have 170 kids in my classes and 170 essays to read, that takes about 5 minutes per essay to read it, grade it, write feedback. That comes out to about 14 hours. If I worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each day during the week, plus some lesson planning and grading that week, I’d be looking at a 60 hour work week easy.
I have been off for four days on Summer vacation. In those four days I have gone shopping with my own money to get decorations for my classroom and some other supplies. I have also spent several hours reading material to prepare for teaching next year. I have spent several more reading generally about good teaching practices. My domestic partner and Favorite Woman in the Whole World has done similarly. We have each put in an easy 10-15 hours of our own time to work.
Is that really time off? Granted, I’m not punching a time clock, but I still think by most definitions I am working. Lesson planning, professional development, and other prep work might not be in front of the kids, but it feels pretty vital to me to my job.
How does one define work, then? Is it only what happens in your place of business? If that was true then how can some people claim a tax write-off for a business lunch or dinner? Obviously, it’s not true. Work for many professions takes many forms and takes place in many locales.
I will mention many times this summer when I am working even though I’m “off”. Next time some poorly-informed individual starts in with that nonsense about teachers not working too many hours and getting the summers off, you can laugh at them and set the record straight.

***Update*** 6/3/11
if you’re interested, this blog http://2000hours.blogspot.com/ is a teacher logging his summer work hours.

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2 thoughts on “Teachers Get The Summer Off. Right?”

  1. Exactly!! I even write, review, and annually revise the entire laboratory manuals for 2 of my 3 courses I teach regularly. That takes 2-3 WEEKS of solid work each summer. We DO get FLEXibility during summers and “breaks”, but VERY little actual time-off!! 🙂

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