Summer Break or Continuing Education?

by Howard Gerber on July 12, 2012

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Summer Break or Continuing Education

Many people look at the job of teaching as a little bit of work with a lot of vacations. Summer vacation alone is more time off from work than most people get in several years in other careers. Then there is spring break and winter break and all of the other little three day weekends sprinkled throughout the rest of the year. Right? No, not really.

During the school year breaks teachers have to grade papers, average grades, prepare new lesson plans, and any number of other tasks that they simply do not have time for during the course of a typical school work day. These breaks are also ideal for continuing education. Continuing education is required for most fields that require certification in order to retain employment. Every year, or before each renewal, teachers must attend classes or take isolated courses in their subject area or in general educational theory in order to maintain the license to teach. During the school year, some schools offer workshops after school or on teacher work days that fulfill some of these requirements. Some teachers pursue an advanced degree, because these classes can usually be used for the continuing education requirements as well. However, not all teachers have the time to do this during the school year – which leaves summer break.

By the time summer break officially begins, many teachers are feeling as burned out as their students. They want time to relax and don’t necessarily want to jump into the role of student as soon as their own students leave the building. However, there are certainly some very good reasons to do so.

  • Time – Without a doubt, teachers have more time to attend classes or workshops during the summer. They are not limited to after school hours or weekends, and instead can take day classes and still have nights and weekends off.
  • Attention – During the summer teachers have fewer professional responsibilities and will be able to truly focus on the coursework they are given. They will not be worrying about getting out of class so they can grade papers or plan new lessons.
  • Development – Continuing education is also called professional development. The development portion of the latter phrase is especially important. When people have sufficient time and the ability to give something their full attention they are more likely to truly benefit from the course so that it can truly help them develop as a professional.

Most teachers don’t want to give up their free time, especially their summer break, for a mandatory class they may fear won’t help them. However, most continuing education classes are able to teach even the most veteran teachers new tactics to try in the classroom.

Are you devoting part of your summer to continuing education or do you prefer to spend the time as far away from school as possible?

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