The three best reasons to be a teacher - June, July and August.
School's out for the summer here in our district. The halls are quiet. Male administrators are wearing golf shirts instead of ties. Parking spots are easy to find. Tuck pointing and blacktop resurfacing is going full bore. All the signs of summer are upon us.
There is the stray teacher wandering the halls looking for a curriculum writing group and soon a few summer school students will be slinking in. But this week, it's quiet. Too quiet.
And our kids are all home diligently forgetting everything they learned over the past nine months. Bored. Playing Grand Theft Auto. Watching Jackass. Getting pregnant.
Year-round school seems like a no-brainer to me. This is how Saudi ARAMCO's year-round school year operated (operates?) when I taught there in the 80's:
- September, October, November - regular school days
- December - intersession or vacation
- January, February, March - regular school days
- April - intersession or vacation
- May, June, July - regular school days
- August - intersession or vacation
Teachers got a one-month (actually 5-week) block off during each school year - either in December, April or August - as best fit company needs. Most families had a similar vacation schedule. While a third of the students and teachers vacationed, the rest of the school participated in "intersession." (I did not feel deprived having but a month off and found that vacationing in April was fantastic - cooler weather and no crowds in much of the world.)
I loved intersession. The mornings were devoted to helping kids who fell behind during the previous three months get caught up. The afternoons were given over to informal learning - crafts, games, hobbies, sports and other ways of learning that were more social and fun than the regular classroom. My favorite intersession offerings were Learning Logo, Myths and Legends of Many Lands, and bowling. It was great getting to know kids in a less structured setting.
Pretty easy to see the advantages of such a school calendar. Of course kids here in Minnesota are needed on the farm during the summer to help Dad put up hay and can tomatoes with Mom. Yeah, right.
Yes, our schools lack air conditioning. It's unlikely the state is willing to pop for two more months of salary for teachers. Some kids and employers would be inconvenienced by such a calendar.
But isn't the real reason we don't have year-round school simply tradition?
Schools are about maintaining traditions and norms, not about changing them.
Too bad for a lot of kids who could use year-round schools. And a lot of teachers who would like to be considered full time employees.