Summer vacation? Not for teachers

June 12, 2009|By LISA PREJEAN

The father of one of my students asked if his son could follow up with me about something after school ended. I told him I'd be glad to help his son and that I would be at school the following week.

"Really? Teachers will be at school the week after school ends?" the father said.

I smiled and explained to him that there is quite a bit of record-keeping to do at the end of the school year. Most of us are in and out of our classrooms all summer long, too. We might not have students, but we are still working.

For most people, it's hard to imagine a teacher having work that doesn't involve planning, teaching or grading.

Earlier this week at dinner, my son asked, "What did you do all day today at school without students?"

Good question. What exactly do teachers have to do the week after students leave? The duties are fairly standard, although specifics probably vary from school to school.


When I went to do my records-keeping, in addition to figuring final grades, I tallied absences, tardies and demerits. This year, I had 25 students in my homeroom. So tallying this information, double-checking it and recording it took most of the day. These records are placed on report cards for the students and on permanent record cards, which are kept in the school office.

Teachers at my school also did an inventory of all the textbooks that were issued for the classes we taught. Students who lost or damaged a book during the school year were charged a replacement fee.

If more students are expected in a particular class next school year, additional textbooks are ordered during the summertime.

Then there's the cleaning. Even though the janitorial staff does most of the heavy work, teachers do quite a bit of cleaning in and around their classrooms.

Our white boards need a good scrubbing. The desktops need to be cleaned. Floors need to be swept or vacuumed. The items on top of our desks need to be stored so the furniture can be moved easily during the summertime. Books are removed from shelves, the shelves are cleaned, the books are returned to the shelves and then the bookcases are covered with large sheets of plastic to keep dust away during the summer.

Files are organized. Old records are shredded.

Items on bulletin boards are removed and stored.

Computers and electronic equipment is cleaned and covered with plastic.

Maintenance needs are recorded and turned in to the office.

Student supply lists are updated, if necessary. These will be popping up in displays at a store near you soon, so be ready to buy your back-to-school supplies in a few weeks. (I wish I were kidding, but you know I'm not.)

After all these tasks are completed, most teachers take stock of what worked and what didn't work this year. What are some things that can be done to make learning more interesting? What can be done to engage the students more fully?

I'm looking forward to making several revisions this summer to the classes I taught this past year. So if you see me this summer, don't be surprised if my nose is in a teacher's manual.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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