Now I'm sure people wonder.... what do teachers do all summer? So I thought it'd be fun to document a day in the life of "Summer Kristin"
But before we go down the slippery slope of "We need to get rid of summers! It's ridiculous! Teachers get paid to do nothing! Studies have shown that the largest discrepancies between rich kids and poor kids happen because of summer vacation. Let's get rid of it!" (yes all true arguments. They concluded in the study that students of more affluent families spend the summer in camps/museums/traveling where their knowledge base increases making them "smarter" where students of less affluent families spend the majority of their summer in front of the cheapest babysitter there is... a tv.)
So before I go into a typical summer day in the life of a junior high teacher... I first want to make sure we understand a few things.
1. Yes teachers get "paid" in the summer. Teachers salaries are typically 2/3 of another employ with similar educational background. So really I think it's pretty fair.
2. Why summer is so important. I have heard all the arguments of why we should abolish the old agricultural system of summer and have school year round because it would benefit students. (Really I think the real argument is because it is even "cheaper" babysitting that the television) But I'd like to suggest a reason that eventually does benefit students that might not seem so initially. Teachers need a break. I know that sounds ridiculous. No other profession in the world well besides professional athletes get an "off season"... well and Europeans...
But here is why it is so valuable to society to let teachers have a break...or multiple breaks. Unlike any other real profession outside of government, there is absolutely no incentive whatsoever to work hard or be a good teacher. Quite frankly the school would run a lot smoother if every teacher was a crappy teacher and just gave every student an A. Now of course anyone that reads that sentence realizes the reality of it. So of course instantly we think we need to figure out a way to create an monetary incentive to be a good teacher. But alas then we run into the never ending circle of what is a good teacher. (I know it sounds simple.... but like so many other things in life the more you think about it, the more you study it, the more complex it becomes, don't believe me.... try getting a masters degree in it.(insert the crying emoticon)
I actually even discovered a study that proves this even further than I ever dreamed. (It's from an NPR TED radio hour podcast called "The Money Paradox" from a book called Thrive listen to it here) Long story short, we always think that dangling money in front of something will always produce the best results. They did a study were they had groups of people try and solve a problem. With one set of groups they said, "Who every gets done first gets X amount a money, who ever gets done next gets a little bit less than X amount etc." Then with the second set of groups they said, "If you solve the problem you get X amount of money." The second group solved the problem way faster than the first. Interesting right?
I feel like this same principle applies to teaching. I don't think the way to create better teachers is to throw more money at them or to even increase the salary of teachers so more talented individuals would go into the profession. I know some might say, "But look at (Insert whichever Asian or Scandinavian country that currently is at the top here). They have the highest test score in the world and their teachers get paid way more than American teachers. Clearly they must have better teachers."
My argument? They have better students. What does that mean? No, I don't think their students are genetically superior to Americans. American students have two problems. 1. They think education is a right instead of a privilege. 2. A word I was recently introduced to, Americans are stricken with "affluenza." (Joanie told me a famous athlete was asked if his kids would excel in his sport. His response, "Heck no. My kids are stricken with affluenza. If you have a pool in your backyard you'll never put in the work required to excel at (Insert whatever sport he competes in)"
I guarantee American teachers are just as good if not better when compared to teachers around the world. But the bottom line is learning takes work. A lot of work. It's painful. It's hard. And the bottom line is, American kids in general, don't have to do it. So instead of blaming the students who don't want an education or the parents (or lack of parents) that don't teach kids the value of that education or how to work.... we blame the teachers. The lazy good for nothing, only work 2/3 of the year, teachers. But like so many other things in life, you can drag a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink. A teacher can beg and beg and beg and make the lesson as hip and cool and inspiring as humanly possible. But at the end of the day, learning is work. And the only way to really increase learning is for the student to work.
So why are summers so important for teachers? Because the good teachers, the ones that really care, the ones that try so hard to really help kids.... they need a break. Because other wise they start not to care. They start to become calloused. Already the studies say that the best teachers leave the profession within 5 years. But I argue without summer the rest of the teachers would A. become more calloused and not care or B. leave the profession. Because the only motivation for a a teacher to try and be a good teacher... is because they have a crazy idea that the maybe someday down the road their work will pay off. A kid might actually make a better decision. A kid might actually be more successful. A kid might actually contribute to society. Of course this sounds noble. But after 180 days of all the troubles a teacher has to face trying to help a kid.... they need a break or they stop caring about the chance that maybe someday down the road that kid might actually make a better decision because of that teacher or class. Why is summer important???? Because it rejuvenates a teacher enough to be crazy enough to try and take on another 265 punk 14 year olds.
So without further ado....... Introducing a day in the life of Summer Kristin