Even though I left teaching last summer, I didn’t find a new, non-teaching job until September.
That means, for the first time in seven years, school’s out — but I’m working full-time.
I do get a little misty-eyed seeing the adventures my teacher friends on Facebook are having…
But on the whole, I’m OK with “losing” my summers (and all the other long breaks in the school year) because I’ve gained so much in return.
Here’s why leaving teaching to work year-round at a “real” job has been worth it to me:
I get to “sleep in.”
School started right before 8:00. That meant getting up around 6:30 every day. I think I hated this ritual almost as much as my students did. Now I roll out of bed at the very luxurious 7:45 to get to work by 9:00. Sure the commute can be more crowded, but the extra sleep is glorious.
I get treated like a professional.
Even though I haven’t finished a full year as a professional writer, I feel so much more appreciated and respected than I ever did in my seven years teaching. My opinion is valued. People thank me for the work I do and notice when the quality of my work is good. When I make a mistake, it feels like just that — not that I’m a bad person. It is much, much easier for me to accept and manage setbacks or changes. I haven’t had a truly bad day on the job.
I don’t have to grade essays.
My old colleagues and I used to joke about the stacks of ungraded papers we carried everywhere — home, the doctor’s office, jury duty, kids’ soccer games and on every vacation before June. I would feel guilty when I didn’t bring grading with me, and when I brought it but avoided the work. Shedding the emotional and physical weight of Ungraded Papers has been freeing.
I get nights and weekends to myself.
Not only am I essay-free, but I also don’t have to plan lessons, submit lesson plans, or make and grade exams anymore. Unlike previous summers, I’m not taking grad classes, writing curriculum, or preparing to teach a new course, either. Now I relax after dinner and enjoy the whole weekend, including Sundays!
To be fair, I loved the courses I took for my master’s in English, and I would get excited about planning for a new year. So yes, I am sad about losing these experiences, but I’m willing to accept the loss.
I still get lots of vacation time.
I think of it this way: instead of two months off, I have two days and five nights of vacation every week, plus the paid time off from my job. And now that my breaks are more evenly distributed, I don’t need the weeks and months away from work as much as I used to.
Did I mention no grading?
Teachers (especially English teachers!), I know you get what a big deal this is.
Some non-teachers like to point out that teachers get paid a full salary for ten months of work. But the truth is that teachers do at least twelve months of work in ten months! That’s why they need the summer to recover — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
One year after leaving teaching, I am happier, calmer and more well rested than I’ve been in a long time. And I’m even more convinced that teachers richly deserve every day of the summer and more.
Teachers Definitely Get Summers Off. And That’s OK. (Paul Bruno)