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WNIJ Perspectives
Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: Don't Teachers Get Summers Off?

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Every summer, teachers -- whether primary, secondary, post-secondary or vocational -- face the same question from family, friends, and the public: Don’t you have summers off?

And every summer, teachers find themselves responding with the usual facts and figures: We are not on contract during the summer months. We are not paid during this period of time. And we are working -- researching, writing, and developing lesson plans -- we just do not show up to the classroom.

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You’ve likely heard these before. But what you probably haven’t heard is that responding to the COVID-19 crisis has required teachers to work even harder and often off the clock.

In March, when schools across the country quickly moved to online instruction, there was little time to plan and strategize the remote learning experience. For fall 2020, things will be different. We have the time to reorganize, retool, and reformulate the entire learning experience for the success of our students.

But transforming the entire curriculum is a Herculean task. Our teachers are up to the challenge, and they will be ready. But getting there has taken time and effort. Every teacher has spent this summer working as they never have before. This work has proceeded, in many cases, without direct compensation and on their own time. And it is work that -- if all goes according to plan -- will be virtually transparent and unseen.

So no, teachers never have summers off. We have been working, and we will -- as always -- be ready when schools open this fall.

I’m David Gunkel and that’s my perspective.

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