How this teacher is spending her summer vacation

Are you the kind of person who’d take your laptop with you to the beach? I am. Here’s why.

I became a teacher two years ago after over 12 years in different companies working in an office customer service and team organisation/coordination. When I tell people that I am a teacher I usually get two kinds of responses. One is a variation of, “Oh that must be very hard/strenuous/challenging!” Another is, “Oh you have so much holiday!” So, how do I react? Well, I do try to play down the hard/tiring/strenuous/challenging aspect of teaching because that is not what remains in your head at the end of the day. Of course, teaching is very hard work. It takes a lot of energy to manage a class of teenagers. And a lot of energy to navigate your teaching day, trying to find quality time for discussions with colleagues, organizing logistics, copies and equipment and finding time for material needs. It does take a toll, but it is ever so rewarding. I’ll say more about that in future posts but suffice to say for the moment that this is what I try to convey to others.

Now the “lots of time off” remark is a two-edged sword. I mean, it’s absolutely true that on the surface it seems that we have a lot of time off. And now, at the end of the 1st of nine lovely weeks of summer vacation I cannot deny that it is a wonderful feeling to be able to get up when I want and not have the demands of the teaching schedule dictate what I do. But this teacher is spending her summer vacation doing what many of her colleagues are doing. Reading, writing, learning, researching and preparing for the next school year. If that does not sound like “lots of time off” you’re right. It’s actually work – pleasurable work but work all the same.

Like many other colleagues, I’m studying on the side – in my case this means I am finishing my teaching degree taking evening classes. The upcoming year is my final (hopefully!) year, so I am scrambling to work on my Bachelor thesis in these summer months so I can ease my burdens during the academic year. That’s why I have more reading and writing to do than normal. Thesis-writing is particularly challenging as you have to be a careful and accurate quoter of sources. And for me, this is even more of a pain as I’m writing it in German, which has its own particularities of formal academic writing. Sigh!

And then there are the lessons to prepare for next year. In my case, I’ll be teaching a new class – 4th form (14 year olds) in English as well as an optional course of ICT. Both require setup and prep as I’ll be creating a yearly plan now, and also because I’d like to integrate eLearning into my teaching as much as possible, perhaps even flipping my classroom. We’ll see how far I reach.

And then probably because I enjoy having lots on my plate I’m also working on two projects next year – creating a platform for teachers to share experiences in teaching with tablets and writing a concept for the introduction of tablet teaching at my school for the academic year 2016/2017. Both projects involve reading, researching and writing now, in preparation of bringing teams up to speed once the team starts in September.

All this goes to explain my workaholic state, even in the summer. My laptop is my constant companion, every day. If you are like me, working at the beach, I tip my cocktail to you. If you are one of those people giving me the side eye cos I brought my work to the beach, then all I can say is – let’s have a drink together and meet again in September.