Watch it, I'm venting.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people come to Josh or me and arrogantly tell us how lucky we are that Josh gets to stay home all summer and still gets to be paid for it.
(Let me amend that a little by saying that people who are teasing us or who aren't implying laziness or backward behavior etc on our part are in no way bothersome...please don't be afraid to harass us or anything...we definitely dish out teasing and we can take it too.)
Josh has taught high school for four full years now and I have yet to see a summer in which he has the time to idly recline in a lounge chair while sunning himself outside sipping a Margarita (OK the Margarita may be laying it on too thick, we are LDS after all and don't drink).
Basically during the summer Josh spends the bulk of his time on school related issues and I don't have him available to me that much more than I do during the school year (although I LOOOVE having him at home so at least I can run errands or just look at him if I'm lonely or sad). I think any teacher that is interested in being their best would agree that summer is the time when you revamp your lessons and tests and projects and that is no small task.
Josh teaches four different classes: Psychology 1, Psychology 2, Sports Psychology and Financial literacy. That means four sets of tests, four sets of lessons, four sets of assignments, four sets of everything. He keeps meticulous notes during the year about what worked well and what needed a bit of modifying. Every summer he spends loads of hours going over every presentation tweaking and adjusting and completely re doing lessons, adding new learning activities, creating new worksheets and much more.
In Josh's case he is also a girls soccer coach and summer conditioning started June 4 and will continue every single weekday until tryouts the first days of August (all you Murray girls out there be sure to keep practicing and drilling so you will be your best come fall).
Plus, in case you were wondering, teachers are required to re certify every couple of years (which is a good thing) and as part of that they are required to continue their training and education. Josh has a couple of week long sessions to attend this summer that will boost his idea base and help him be the best educator there is (at least if you ask me). No one pays him to attend these seminars, in fact most of the time we pay to be part of them.
On top of that, Josh is working on his master's degree in education and administration in large part so that he can further our family's opportunities by expanding our income (with eight of us living on his salary we surely need that). Because of this, Josh also needs to spend bunches of time working in the administrative offices of the school while students are out. His internship hours will be many.
As an added bonus, for those of you who chastise us for "being paid for 12 months of work when you only work 9" just be aware that we aren't. We are paid for 9 months and the district kindly stretches those payments out over 12 months so that we don't become destitute every summer. That's why Josh works an extra job to help us pull the ends closer together, which, by the way, means more time away from home and addition summer obligations as well.
So we pinch our pennies and cut corners and scape by all year, and we are honestly glad to do it. Josh loves teaching and I love that he loves teaching so we are willing to do whatever we need to do to make it work.
I mean seriously, this man ADORES his students. I wish you could see the anguish in his eyes when one of them is struggling. I wish you could see his exultant smile when one of them succeeds. I wish you could hear him tout their strengths and ponder how to help them in their weaknesses. I wish you could see him pore over his tests and assignments question by question every summer to be sure they are worded in just the right way. I wish you could see him search books and videos and teacher sites and every other resource to find teaching activities that will better help his students understand the material he needs to present them.
So don't assume that he is constantly available to attend scout camp and youth conference and everything else just because it is summer and act annoyed when he says he doesn't have time (no one has done this recently, I'm not pointing fingers, but it does happen). Please do ask him, he might be able to and he is glad to help when he can...but just like anyone else, his job may not make that possible, even if he is not currently in school.
The point is, next time you run into a school teacher and you are tempted to tell them how lucky they are because they get to be lazy and do nothing for 1/4 of the calendar year just stop yourself. Instead shake their hand, give them a hug or something like that and just thank them for the time and dedication they give to your children. Let them know that you appreciate the hours outside of school that they spend worrying for and counseling with the youth they teach.
Tell them you are grateful that they attend sporting events and dance competitions and chorus concerts because they don't have to, but they do it because their students are important to them and encouraging coming generations to be their best and know they are of value is what these teachers live for.
And that is something we should ALL be thankful for.