On Monday, I talked about the ways that students are impacted when they are on a year-round school schedule, instead of having traditional summers off. Today, I want to look at another group impacted by a break from the typical summer-break school calendar: teachers.
Does a lack of a season of rejuvenation for educators lead to burnout in the classrooms - and how is pay impacted? Let’s take a look at these, and other implications, of year-round academic calendars and teachers.
No Summers Off
Every job comes with its share of headaches and at one point or another, employees in all industries claim that they are “burned out.” Teaching is unique when it comes to burn out, though, because an unmotivated, exhausted teacher has a direct effect on the young people in his or her classroom. Summers off has long been the light at the end of the tunnel for teachers, particularly in urban areas with higher discipline problems and overcrowded classrooms. In a year-round setting, lengthy breaks are gone, replaced with shorter, more frequent ones instead. Though the loss of those summer months may at first seem like a drawback, many teachers end up liking greater frequency in time off. With shorter, more concentrated spurts of instruction, teachers can exert more energy and face the daily struggles with the hope that there will be relief soon. There is still as much time off, but it is more evenly distributed.
More Red Tape
Teachers who work at multi-track year-round schools, or schools that rotate student schedules so time off is staggered and the school is always open, have more work to do. Part of the financial allure of a multi-track schedule is that a school is always at full capacity which means that teachers share classrooms. “Roving” teachers have to live from carts or temporary storage in some cases in order to make their classrooms accommodating to other teachers. There are also cases where a teacher may not get the allotted time off because he or she is changing a grade level or subject and there is no time off between tracks.
Single-track setups feasibly have less of the issues of multi-track schools but there are still some conflicts, particularly if the teachers are parents too. If their children go to a traditional schedule school, their breaks may not line up and could lead to childcare issues.
In most scenarios, teachers make the same amount of money in their districts whether they work at a year-round or traditional school, though the pay schedules may differ. Teachers who made extra money teaching summer school still have that option in year-round districts that offer remedial courses during break periods. Where some teachers see the biggest economic cut when they teach year-round is in the three months of summer that other teachers often seek out part-time or seasonal work. Based on the type of work, this could mean a loss of income in the thousands every year. For teachers satisfied with holding down just one job and paycheck, a year-round schedule may not have any economic impact on their families at all.
Research has not found any large negative effects on teachers who teach on year-round schedules instead of traditional ones. Like any profession, the preferable schedule depends on the individual. For veteran teachers who have been teaching in a traditional setup for years, a switch to year-round schooling may be more jarring than a newly-licensed teacher. Overall, though, the job and time off are comparable - just different.
What pitfalls do you think teachers on year-round schedules face?
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The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.