A Teacher’s Summer Break

Here are some things I’ve done over my summer break:

*Led and supervised a group of students on a week-long science camping trip in Wyoming
*Walked my dog
*Lots of swimming
*Traveled to Rome for two weeks as a program liaison for a graduate education class
*Read some books for fun
*Worked on my scrapbooks
*Pinned ideas for my classroom and teaching on
*Looked into a new writing program for my classroom
*Slept in past 5:00 A.M.

And lots of other leisurely and fun activities!

What have you been up to?
Tweet me @barry_christine or leave me a comment here!

Summer Off? I don’t think so…

Richard Kemp (wrote an article for Yahoo) couldn’t have summed it up any better.

What is summer like for teachers?
To many, teaching seems to have some cushy perks, especially the two months off during the summer. What do teachers do during the summer?

1) take classes

2) teach classes

3) write curriculum

4) travel

5) read and write

6) spend time with family

7) prepare for the school year

The romance of having two months off every year to hang out and do nothing is a luxury often missed by many teachers.

1) Educators continue to be educated throughout their careers. To maintain their certification, to move up to other positions, to teach new or different classes, or to strengthen the knowledge they have of their own classes, teachers routinely return to the classroom as students. One of the best times to do this is during the summer. Often, colleges run special courses for teachers during the summer to match time needs. Classes are offered at colleges, sometimes at local public schools, and online.

2) Many of the teachers who receive new education are taught by other master teachers. Additionally, many teachers teach at universities, at camps, in special programs, in summer school, or through workshops. Full-time college faculty often takes off during the summer, leaving summer classes in need of instructors-perfect for teachers. Many camps are now focused on various academics and upper-level pursuits instead of just swimming, sitting by camp fires, and making crafts. These camps are perfect for many teachers to express their unique ideas or specialties or to continue teaching what they teach all year. Summer school is no longer just the place where student who failed the prior year go to catch up or pass. In many locations, summer school is used for students to get ahead. In Maryland, for example, juniors can graduate early by taking an English class during the summer between junior and senior year. Whether one of these original credit courses or a make up course for students who failed, summer school must be taught by the same qualified teachers.

3) Many counties and school districts use their own curriculum, from tests to guides, books to quizzes. This material must be created by somebody. Often, teachers work with colleagues and curriculum designers / experts to produce the materials needed by other teachers in their district.

4) Sure, teachers often travel. Like most of America, teachers take vacations during the summer. Not all of them are just lounging away, though. Many teachers host trips to foreign countries to enhance and enrich student experiences.

5) If not in a formal class, many teachers will strengthen their skills by reading and writing about their topic. It’s a natural part of being a teacher to continue reading and writing extensively. Many teachers put off reading for pleasure or reading books that interest them during the school year because of grading and other academic pressures. The summer is the perfect time for many to catch up on those books on deck.

6) Teachers are an amazingly dedicated group of people often spending much more time with other people’s children than with their own. Summer is a time to help balance this. Like so many others during summer, teachers spend time with family, go on vacation, go camping and hiking, and enjoy what they worked so hard for all school year.

7) Many teachers spend much of their summer getting ready for the next school year. If they were assigned an unfamiliar class, they might need to do the reading, create tests and lesson plans, and otherwise familiarize themselves with the class.

The idea of a 2-month summer vacation is romantic and sounds cushy, but it is, in most cases, just a fantasy. Teachers work hard all school year, and many work hard all summer.

A Week in the Life of a Teacher…

… on summer break

Summer break is a time for me to rest, rejuvenate, and prepare for the next school year.
So far, this summer, I have led students on a week-long summer science enrichment camping experience in the mountains of Wyoming. I taught hands-on science lessons and guided students in ranch and camping activities.
I just returned from a two-week long education program in Rome, Italy. I was a participant in an educational tour program and visited various sites around Rome.
While my summer break is certainly a time free from grading, lesson planning, and meetings, I have been involved in these educational experiences as well as taking more time for myself than I typically have during the school year. I have read several books, caught up on my Netflix queue, and gone on long walks with my dog. The rest of the summer will be free from travel and once August hits, I will spend some time preparing for the new school year.

What are your summer days like? Leave a comment here or tweet me @barry_christine!

Tips for Interviewing for a Teaching Position

While I don’t claim to be an expert on interviews by any means, I feel as though I have some tips to share for those who may have doubts or questions.  What better place to share those tips than right here on the Teachers Count Blog? Let me start by saying that I have only been an “interviewee” for a teaching job on two separate occasions.  The first time I was fresh out of college and interviewing for a school which had not yet opened.  I believe the principal may have had mercy on me and decided to give me a shot even though I was sweaty and red-faced throughout the entire interview.  One thing I had going for me was I maintained a smile the whole time and was able to slip in a few jokes here and there.  So, though I was nervous, I believe I came across as “likable.” My second and only other teaching interview was quite unique.  I was living with my husband in Canada at the time but, we were planning to move back to the States.  A friend of mine had been working at a Charter School and loved it.  She was able to “put the good word in for me” when a teaching position became available.  The principal was nice enough to interview me via Skype.  If you’ve read any of my other blogs, this may shine some light on why I love and feel so indebted to technology!  I managed to earn a second interview and was offered the job a few weeks later. I am still working at that school to this day!  What NOT to do… In the nearly five years between my first and second teaching interviews I was able to research interviewing tips and skills.  I found much of the same information no matter where I searched.  Most websites and books offered a list of questions that the interviewer might ask and insinuated that the person being interviewed should memorize these questions and formulate the correct answers to each one.  Is it just me or does this sound absolutely terrifying to a presumably already terrified potential teacher?  As if we haven’t gone through four grueling years of college, not to mention studied into the wee hours of the night in hopes of passing all THREE of our Teaching Certification Exams on the first try. Now we’re expected to study a list of questions and (what we hope are) the correct answers to those questions and, oh yeah!  Here’s a fun twist!  Some of those questions won’t be asked at all during the interview and they will likely be the ones we prepared the best answers for.  Long story short, I suggest you read these questions, maybe even skim them, and think of your general stance on them but, do not spend too much time sitting at a computer and actually typing out your answers or sitting in front of the mirror rehearsing your responses.  In my opinion, the ONLY thing this will do is to make you even more nervous than you originally were (if that’s even possible) and make you come off disingenuous.   Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying don’t come to an interview prepared.  I just think we should have more faith in ourselves and not only the innate knowledge that made us want to teach in the first place but, also what we’ve learned in college and already know from experience.  What TO do instead… While it is important to be up on all the latest education lingo and strategies that the latest research shows are “in” (and will probably be “out” by year’s end), I believe the best time to form a true and lasting opinion on these issues is while in the field.  Any teacher will tell you that you learn the most when you are physically in the classroom molding those young minds.  If you haven’t taught before, hold back on the research talk and if you have taught before, it is far more impressive to speak on what has worked for you in your personal experience than to quote someone else’s findings. Having recently had the opportunity to be on the other side of the interview chair, I realized that we are all reading the same articles, fabricated questions and latest behavior management books!  All this does is make each person being interviewed seem like a robot, spitting out the same information.  It makes you sound unoriginal.  And how, you may ask, can I come across as original and still impressive to my future principal?  My answer is simple. BE YOURSELF. Even if you are asked a question that you fear you will have the “wrong” answer to, answer it honestly!  Don’t cater to the latest research or to what you think the principal wants to hear.  More often than not you will be appreciated for being brave enough to speak your mind and, more importantly, you will come across as confident as opposed to nervous. My point is you can’t really mess up when the objective is being you.  Should you prepare yourself in your own way?  Of course.  However, we certainly don’t need an army of robot teachers, spewing out the same popular information in the education industry.  What we need are teachers who can speak their minds.  Teachers who have various and differing opinions about education and teaching in general and who are intelligent and diligent enough to work together to find out what truly is best for our students. In closing, I would say that the most important aspect of any interview is your “likability factor.”  Whether or not you know all of the answers to the questions that will undoubtedly be asked, if you can walk away from that interview with the principal thinking, “I really like him/her,” you have a great shot at getting a job.  This simply means you should remember to be punctual, smile throughout the interview, be courteous and take your time answering questions.  Also, utilize the personality strengths you already know you possess.  If you’re not sure what those are, ask a few of your friends to describe you in three words.  If humor is one of your strong suits, be sure to use that!  Remember, interviews are stressful for everyone involved.  Your future principal will surely enjoy a little chuckle to lighten the mood. If you are gearing up for an interview, I hope this blog has helped you!  I wish you good luck in your pursuit of a teaching job at a great school.  If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.  Happy job hunting!