Have you ever wondered what teacher summer vacation really looks like? In most cases they aren’t traveling the world, sleeping until noon, or lounging poolside, even without the threat of a pandemic. Actually, most people wouldn’t consider what teachers do in the summer “vacation” at all. “I’m so jealous of your summers off!” comments usually stop once people realize what actually happens. Here’s what many teachers are doing this summer.

1. Shaking their heads at emails asking, “can I still get credit?”

Yes, the school year is over. Grades have long been submitted and finalized. But many teachers are still receiving calls and emails from students – and their parents – begging them to accept work that was due months ago.

2. Calming students and parents who think teachers have the inside scoop.

Everyone is concerned about what school is going to look like next year. Many students and parents think teachers have the inside scoop. Spoiler alert: they usually don’t know nearly as much as the public assumes they do.

3. Trying to figure out how to configure their classrooms.

How can seating be arranged to maintain social distancing? There just isn’t enough room, but yet they have out graph paper and rulers trying to figure it out.

4. Preparing for multiple unknown scenarios.

Most school districts haven’t decided for sure exactly when or how school will resume. The situation is still changing too frequently to make firm decisions. Teachers are doing their best to prepare for multiple scenarios in the hopes one of them will stick.

5. Working summer jobs because their teacher salary isn’t enough.

Teacher summer vacation means picking up shifts delivering groceries, working at the local coffee shop, becoming a day camp counselor, or picking up other hourly employment for many. And they’re still doing everything else on the list, too.

6. Thinking about the students who depend on school for more than just education.

Teachers know school is much more than just a place to obtain education for many students. It’s a place of safety away from abuse for many kids. School is the only place food is available for so many children. It might also be their only access to air conditioning or heat in harsh weather conditions. For other students, it’s the only place students feel free to be themselves. Teachers are worried about these students over summer vacation and trying to figure out how they’re going to make sure their needs are met through remote learning.

7. Burying themselves in professional development materials.

Teachers spend summer break doing online professional development courses, researching best practices, and reading piles of articles and books. Sure, part of it is because they have professional development hours required to maintain certification and summer gives them a little more time to focus. But they mostly tackle this learning on their own because they want to be the best teacher possible. Teachers are currently spending their summer researching best practices in remote teaching, the latest research on distance learning, and how to build a classroom community distantly.

8. Worrying if they’re still going to have a job.

Budget cuts mean an estimated300,000 teaching positionsmight be cut. Teachers are recovering from the stress of months of remote teaching. They are trying to plan for teaching in unknown circumstances. And all the while, they’re worried if they’ll even have a job at the end of the summer.

9. Cleaning, sanitizing, doing laundry, and washing face masks.

Teachers are preparing to return to school in the fall, and they need to stay healthy. Their sanitation game is strong. Plus, they’re still catching up on cleaning, organizing, and laundry they didn’t have time for while remote teaching.

10. Not snapping at people who say, “Teachers are so lucky to have summers off!”

Teachers are on duty year-round. Teacher summer vacation isn’t really a thing. It’s frustrating to hear people express jealousy when you are overworked, exhausted, and stressed.

Teacher summer vacation isn’t exactly restful or relaxing for the most part. There’s even more worry, stress, and uncertainty hanging over teachers this summer than most. Returning to school, remotely, in person, or something in between is going to be a huge challenge. Instead of being jealous they have summers “off,” drop a thank you note, and a goodie basket off at the door of the teachers in your life. They need our support in the summer, too.

Here's What Summer Vacation Really Looks Like For Many Teachers