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Summer break isn't all vacation for school teachers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jes-c Brandt   

Kate Shoemaker, of classroom 4A, knows that
preparing for the arrival of her students this
school year isn’t just about a big stack of books.
She has been busy setting up her classroom
and putting the finishing touches on her
lesson plans.
—Enterprise photo

A day in the life of...

A teacher on summer break

A school building during summer vacation is a mysterious place. It’s like a shadow of a school year past, with only hints of the term to come. To the average elementary school student—and even many adults—the life of a teacher seems to be limited to the classroom. So what happens when summer comes around; does a teacher have a life outside the class?

Kate Shoemaker, teacher of the 4A class, offers an inside look at a day in the life of a teacher on summer break.

Teachers do get a vacation, Shoemaker noted, just like the kids do. She had the chance to visit family this summer and also to vacation in Mexico, so having the break is certainly one of the perks of the job.

Even amid her travels, however, Shoemaker’s role as a teacher shone through. While it wasn’t an actual job requirement, she, along with several other Holyoke teachers, attended two conferences, one on reading and the other on technology.

As a teacher, Shoemaker noted she could have spent her time differently this summer, but both conferences she attended were very helpful and she’s glad she went.

At the Every Child a Reader workshop, teachers learned about methods to improve students’ reading and writing. Fellow teacher Lynn Schneider implemented the program last year and found it to be very successful. Shoemaker looks forward to using the techniques she learned in her classroom in the coming year.

Now that the summer is coming to an end, Shoemaker is busy preparing for a year with her new fourth grade class. Preparations range from decorating her classroom to finalizing lesson plans.

While students start school Aug. 19, most will notice that the calendar has the first day for teachers listed as Aug. 13. What happens at the school during that week before students flood the halls? Shoemaker revealed the secret.

It’s mostly meetings, she said, where teachers and administration get ready for students. Teachers also have some time during the week allotted to spend in their classrooms. Most teachers, however, have already been at the school getting ready. If they waited to try to do it all during that week, it simply wouldn’t be enough time, Shoemaker said.

Shoemaker has been in her classroom for two weeks already. After all, there are many things to do to ready a classroom. Moving to a new room this year, she had the additional task of relocating all her supplies. She certainly wasn’t alone though. At the conclusion of the last year, students helped carry books from one classroom to the other, and there were plenty of books to be toted.

Also making Shoemaker’s move to a new room go smoothly were the custodians, who have been greatly helpful in the process, she said.

Beyond decorating the walls, distributing books and organizing desks, Shoemaker has also been spending the summer planning lessons for the upcoming year.

The weeks preceding the start of school have teachers making lots of copies, Shoemaker said. Ideally, teachers plan ahead and make as many copies as possible before the kids get there and teachers have less time to do that sort of thing.

At the heart of a day in the life of a teacher is always the students. It’s about sharing knowledge with younger generations and preparing youth for the future.

This year promises several new and exciting teaching techniques in the Holyoke Elementary classrooms, and Shoemaker was absolutely bursting with excitement talking about them.

Many classes will have new interactive whiteboards. Instead of the old chalkboards or overhead projectors, teachers will use these whiteboards, connected to the computer. In addition to writing on the board, a number of downloadable activities are available to supplement lessons.

Software for the whiteboards is already on teachers’ laptops, another new feature this year, so Shoemaker said she has been eagerly taking her computer home to familiarize herself with the program and to start finding material to use in her class. During the teachers’ first week back, they will be formally trained to use the whiteboards.

Shoemaker, as well as the other teachers, is sure to be quite busy as she finalizes her back to school plans. Ultimately, it doesn’t so much matter if the walls are decorated or the desk is organized just right. The teachers’ dedication to their students, which is more than evident in their summer efforts, is what has the biggest impact in the classroom.