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  • Writer's pictureDonna Gerard

WHY TEACHERS AND STUDENTS NEED A SUMMER VACATION

Updated: Oct 6, 2023



My two favorite parts of the school year are September and June- the beginning and the end. It seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? If I love school enough to revere September, wouldn’t I be sad in June when it all ends? If I couldn’t wait for the end of June, why would I be excited to start all over again in September? The beginning of the school year is full of promise. By June, the year has run its course, and everyone needs a break- a reset.

Kids start a new school year with a clean slate. This year’s teachers don’t know (hopefully) that you were caught cheating on your math test last year. There will be kids you don’t know who might turn out be new friends. This year you can really do your assigned reading. The mistakes and missteps from last year are gone and you have the chance to start over anew.


The same is true for teachers. Did you make mistakes? Do you need a better discipline plan? Do you want to expand your repertoire of activities? Implement a different classroom management plan? Did you yell too much, or slack off on planning lessons? This is your chance to start out new and improved.


The beauty of the school year is that whether you are a student or a teacher, you get a reset every September. Then, at the end of a school year you get to rest, recover, think, read, relax, and regain your optimism. You can think about and orchestrate the changes you want to make. As a teacher, you can redesign whatever you dislike about your classroom set up and decide what you will do differently. As a student, you can decide to put more effort into your homework, give up your role as class clown, or try out for the basketball team. Everyone has the summer to have some fun, try new things, and put both the old and new school years in perspective.


When teachers and students enter the classroom in September, nobody has a bad track record. It’s a fresh start for everyone.

About this fresh start- let it happen. Avoid colleagues who can’t wait to give you the dirt on how awful Johnny was last year. Maybe Johnny will turn over a new leaf. One year I had a girl I’ll call Julie in my class. Julie was fine, but she was always being called to the office to translate for her Hungarian speaking parents when they were called in to address the escapades on her one-year-younger brother Christopher. I didn’t know what was going on down there, but that boy must be bad news. Imagine my trepidation when I saw Christopher on my class list the following September. I decided to pretend that I had no idea who he was and it paid off. Whatever the issue the previous year, whatever it was he did wrong, it didn’t happen in my classroom. We got from September to June without a sharp word or a sideways glance. This kid had decent grades, got along with everyone, and made it through the year without as much as a lunch detention. All he needed was a fresh start.


Being in a classroom is like being in a local theater production. Some plays are huge hits. A few are flops. Most are good shows that make for a nice night out. Either way, the show completes its run. The actors go home. The stage crew strikes the set. Soon it’s time for a new production to begin. As teachers, we have some great classes and everyone had a wonderful year of learning, friendship, and growth. There are a few bad classes where every day was a struggle, and nobody made it out unscathed. But usually a school year, or class, has mostly good times with several hiccups along the way, leaving everyone better for the experience. Either way, when June hits, it’s time to close things down and move on. Summer is a time to rest and reevaluate, to plan and get ready to move ahead. Viva la school calendar!

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