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Career Questions

Q:  My principal has asked me to attend several workshops this summer.  While the topics are interesting and would be helpful, I hate to give up my summer days.  Part of the reason I became a teacher was so that I could have summers off with my own kids.  And frankly, I need the summer to clear my head and refuel.  Am I being unreasonable to want to protect my summer?

A:  No, you’re not being unreasonable.  But let’s think about some of the reasons your principal may want you to attend the workshops.  Maybe she’s thinking that you could be a leader next year in implementing new teaching strategies the workshops offer.  Or maybe she’s thinking that you need a refresher course or two to improve your own classroom performance. 

While I understand your wanting to protect your vacation time with your children, we all need to continually  Beach-Umbrella  develop our professional skills.  Frankly, given the budget cuts that schools are facing, many teachers will be denied the opportunity for professional development this summer, so you may be among the lucky ones to be offered the chance to learn something new.

My suggestion is that you compromise.  Talk to your principal about spending a couple of days in workshops to stimulate some new ideas and to fulfill your professional obligations.  You may get some insight into why she wants you to go.  And later as you’re lolling under the beach umbrella, the new ideas may take your mind off the oil sloshing up on the sand.


I believe summer is a perfect opportunity to gain valuable professional development, however, additional time given by teachers should be strictly voluntary OR compensated, and NOT be given for "free" as an expectation or as "highly encouraged".

WHY?--On a practical level, teachers with children, especially young children, have the costs of daycare to consider, not to mention the quality time lost with family. On a professional level, teachers SHOULD be compensated for additional time and effort given to help a school district grow. Shrinking school budgets have lead to larger class sizes and more responsibilities for teachers already. Continual pressure to do more, be more, give more will only lead to teacher burn-out, which isn't healthy for anyone--district, teacher or most of all, students.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.