“It must be nice to be paid not to work in the summer!”

If you had a dollar for every time you’ve heard that, right?

It’s amazing how many people are unaware that most teachers spend their summers working a second job, teaching summer school, attending professional development, and/or doing curriculum mapping. And nearly all of us spend at least part of our summers working more unpaid hours preparing for the fall and shopping (with our own money) on things for the classroom.

There are also many people who don’t realize that summer is NOT a paid holiday for teachers. Many of us don’t get a penny during the summer, and those who do are actually paying themselves with money they’ve set aside from their paychecks throughout the year.

I found this image on Pinterest last year and I still think it’s the best explanation of how some teachers get summer paychecks:

why teachers don't get paid in summer

I posted that on Facebook recently and some commenters shared their favorite responses to the misconception that teachers get a paid 8 week vacation every summer:

  • It’s money they owe me for work I’ve already done! (Valerie M.)
  • Teaching is a year round thing. I’m already planning classroom ideas for next school year. (Cynthia G.)
  • I worked enough hours through the school year that I’m just finally getting paid for those 60-65 hour weeks….not to mention being laid off without pay over those dang holiday breaks. (Charlotte S.)
  • Oh, I DO work twelve months–but I have to get it done in only NINE!” (Michael Y.)
  • I work hard during the school year and almost as hard in the summer. So the days I do spend on me, I feel I earned. (Kelly S.)
  • I’m blessed with a teaching job that allows me to tan. I get paid my regular pay on the days I get paid during the year. God bless the rest that don’t have that luxury. (Maggie M.)
  • I have 2 jobs year round and take extra hours at my second job during the summer. If anyone complains, I tell them to just become a teacher too! (Rebecca C.)
  • Regardless of contractual calendar, teachers prepare year-round. Most sign contracts for 180-185 service days and the rest is basically volunteered service given to the profession to which they felt called as public servants.I hope each teacher gets their earned rest so they can greet our children and grandchildren with that genuine welcoming smile, opening the door to the joy of learning. (Kelly S.)
  • Anyone who says that to you doesn’t deserve a response. (M.O.)

How do you respond to people who say,  “It must be nice to have an 8 week paid vacation”?

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Angela is a National Board Certified Teacher with 11 years of classroom experience and 7 years experience as an instructional coach. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has created printable curriculum resources, 4 books, 3 online courses, the Truth for Teachers podcast, and The 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. Subscribe via email to get her best content sent to your inbox!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ruth June 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm

The best response: “You’re right. Teaching is the best job. I wouldn’t do anything else. I think YOU should have been a teacher too, that way you’d know what I mean!”

Invariably, the person leaps backwards and says, ‘Oh no! I could NEVER be a teacher! I’d be in jail/ I’d have killed them all. I don’t know how you do it.”

Yessss. Now bugger off and let me drink my margarita in peace.

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2 Sandee June 17, 2014 at 9:22 am

I always say ” this is how the district saves money …. I get time off to recuperate from teaching science to middle schoolers ( class size 32-37) instead of them paying for a therapist -hahaha! If you want to get the same time off I do, there’s always a need for science and math teachers” Most people agreed that I am insane and will leave me alone!

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3 Angela Watson June 17, 2014 at 9:03 pm

You and Ruth have such great points–no matter how jealous they might be of our summers, most people are NOT willing to teach in order to get that time off! I think when you suggest they become teachers, too, a little bit of reality kicks in and they start to think of what that entails. :)

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4 Esperanza June 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

I’m fortunate that I haven’t had any close family or friends make this comment. They see me tote that teacher bag everywhere. It pushes a button especially when a stranger says it in passing when you mention your time off. I usually say, “Yes, you’re right, it is nice! But I work hard for it.” I like the “city loan” reply. Might use that one!

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5 Karen June 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

I’ve got the stage where I just ignore the comments. It’s not worth it. My situation is a little different in that I work in an International School in Cambodia. Some years I go “home” for the “summer” (it’s actually winter in Australia when I do that), and I spend that time catching up with family, catching up on medical appointments, trying to get some PD, as well as taking care of all the “home” business that needs to be done. I generally come back a couple of weeks early so I can be ready when school actually starts. This year I’m staying in country, but I’ll have a week in a neighbouring country, just to get away and enjoy some “real” shopping centres etc. Then I’m also starting my Masters coursework, so that’s going to eat into that time as well. Yep, there are days when I long for my old job – 38 hour week and at the end of the day I just go home and my time is my own – the pay was better too, but the rewards of teaching are worth it. I love my kids, and I love seeing them learn and grow during the year. And yes, I agree with the others who suggest that if people want “teacher holidays” then they should become teachers. Most of them wouldn’t do it!

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6 Laura June 19, 2014 at 9:48 am

I just say, “It is nice, thank you.” Then I add how relaxing it is to realize that my nights are now my own since I don’t have to juggle grading papers, making dinner, getting my own kids to their activities, and then planning for lessons for the following week. They usually shut up after that. If not, I just mention that it isn’t too late to go back to school for a teaching degree. :)

Laura

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