How will you spend your summer vacation?

Computer Science Teacher
Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information from Alfred Thompson

How will you spend your summer vacation?

  • Comments 3

Today was the last day of school for teachers in the district that my wife (a librarian) and my son (fifth grade special education case manager) work in. They are both ready to recover from what has been a very busy school year. Other schools in other states have been finished for as much as a few weeks. I’m starting to hear from teachers who have had a short break, taken some rest and are now thinking about next year. Some of them start up again in early August and that is looking closer than you’d think.

So what do teachers do to get ready from next school year? Obviously that depends on what they teach, how long they have been teaching, if they are teaching new courses and just plain personal style. I know that a lot of you will be taking courses. Others will be attending conferences like NECC (more on that in a minute). Still others will be spending a lot of time on self-study. They will be reading new textbooks, trying out new projects and modifying their course outlines based on what did and did not work in the year just finished.

And of course there is some rest and recovery time. Teachers are notorious for not pacing themselves. People who work 12 month jobs know that breaks are few and far between and that a project can go on and on. But a teacher has 10 months to get everything done. Once the school year is over that is it. Your chance to teach something to those students is gone forever. So teachers tend to work flat out all the time for weeks and months at a time. It takes a toll on a person mentally and physically. That is why summer break is so critical for teachers. Without it they would all burn out in a year or two. As it is we know that half of all teachers will leave the career within five years. I don’t know how anyone could do it without summer break.

Still as I alluded to earlier it is not all sunning at the beach.

In less than two weeks thousands of teachers will be at NECC getting a lot of information for next year. As a reminder I will be co-hosting a Birds of a Feather session there. I will also be at the CS & IT Symposium on July 8th right after NECC. I hope to see some of you at one of these events. If you can’t make one of them I’ll be around trying to take in some sessions, visiting the exhibit hall but most of all trying to meet computer science teachers who are there. If you’d like to get together drop me an email or stop by the Microsoft booth and ask for me. I expect to be there a good bit and I will be checking in there regularly. Someone there should have my cell phone number as well.

If you are attending NECC for the first time I will have some advice for you. I’m working on a list of suggestions of things I have learned after several visits to NECC and other large conferences. Look for that in a day or so.

Tags: necc necc06

  • I'm looking forward to seeing you at NECC. I wish the BOF you're hosting wasn't opposite the SIGCS annual meeting, since it is the same constituency and will require people to prioritize which they want to attend more. Of course, that's the key at a conference like NECC - there are always multiple interesting things happening at the same time!

    I like your perspective on rest and recovery. I forget about that! This summer I'm attending NECC and the Symposium, of course, plus taking two classes AND working full time at my summer job. It didn't seem like as much when I first signed up for all those things. I worked in IT before I switched back to education, so working year round doesn't seem so strange to me. The long breaks during the school year are a luxury that non-teachers don't have. (As my husband - with his measly 12 days off per year - reminds me frequently.)

    In the summers I work with an organization that places teachers into fellowships in industry. Even though we're working full time, the work is so different from life at school that it is still refreshing and renewing. (Not the least of the refreshment comes in the form of air conditioning and free coffee and tea!) It is interesting to be around adults and to see firsthand how the things we teach are applied in the work world. This year, Microsoft is hosting a fellow, possibly for the first time and his project sounds very exciting. The best thing about working in industry all summer (other than the paycheck) is the relief I feel when I go back to the classroom. It is nice to be reminded that the grass is NOT greener on the other side!
  • I'm not too happy about the conflict with the SIGCS meeting myself. I really wanted to go to that meeting as I am a long time member of SIGCS. But the scheduling was not up to me. Maybe we can get a bunch of people together informally as well. Perhaps a geek teacher dinner.
    I'd love to hear more about this organization that places teachers in industry fellowships. IS there a web site?
  • I love the idea of a geek teacher dinner. I could do it either after the meeting/BOF or the next night. They used to have the SIG reception, so I'd have suggested meeting up there, but I guess not this year!

    The organization I work for is called Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education, or IISME, though they place teachers from all disciplines and K-14. Their website is www.iisme.org.
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