Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Summer's Cool or Summer School

My TEFL career (if it can be called that) started 13 years ago in Cambridge on one of the hundreds of summer school programmes that run each year in the UK. I taught (if you can call it that) on a residential summer school programme for the school that had trained me on my CELTA course. My summer school motto became “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger”. Now, don’t get me wrong I love summer school. I love the atmosphere, the kids, being back in the UK for the summer and meeting other teachers from all over the world but it’s not for the weak or easily scared.

Summer is here which means that many teachers are three weeks or so into their summer holidays but many teachers are three weeks into summer school and to them I say “If you can survive summer school everything else is like a walk in the park”. Imagine 15 teaching hours a week along with breakfast duty, lunch duty, afternoon activities, evening activities, weekend excursions, bed time duty and lights out. Oh I forgot lesson planning! All in a days’ work for a residential summer school teacher. I once had a starter pack that actually said we don’t like whingers! There are loads of great posts over at The TEFL Tradesman about Summer school  slavery. There is one that outlines some interesting legal points about your rights as a summer school teacher which had me in fits of laughter. If I had been paid what I should have been paid I would be RICH! I could have retired years ago.

Summer school is physically and mentally quite hard work but it's also great fun. You really get to know the kids you teach. You get to spend time with them outside of the classroom. You get to do all sorts of fun things with them from rollerblading to dancing at the weekly school disco. I love this part of summer school and to be honest many other things. It may not be the best way to learn English but it is a great experience for the children. It's a privilidge and I for one have spent many a summer working like a dog but have reaped the rewards!

So to all of those who are teaching at summer school , to those of us who are teaching with a reduced timetable and to those lucky teachers who have paid holidays I say ENJOY!


  1. Remember the bit in the Handbook that said "Clock watchers are not appreciated" ? I remembered that while reading that article on The Tefl Tradesman the other day - hmmm I wonder why they don't want us counting up the hours?

    Despite all the hard work and the fact that I used to spend half of what I earned at night having a few pints to relax and on my day off going into London, I do actually miss it - so much so that I even considered going back!

    I think there is a reason why the average age of teachers in summer schools is about 24 - after a few years you realise that working a 45 going on 60 hour week is not worth the 300 odd pounds you get. There are many other reasons, of course.

    I am not one of those lucky ones who get paid holidays but I am lucky enough to be supported by unemployment benefit at 70% of my wages... saving up a bit over the school year allows me to relax over the summer rather than being a slave to 200 spoilt Chinese, Korean, Coloumbian, Italian, Russian and Spanish (etc) kids.

  2. Hi Michelle,

    Yep the joys of summer school. I miss it but I have a lower bullshit threshold than I used to have. Like you say the older you get the less crap you wanna out up with.

    But we had some good times!


  3. Didn't realise you two knew each other in "real life". Who persuaded who to join the blogging lark, then, or was it just coincidence?

  4. PS

    I did a summer camp in Turkey for 25 pounds a week. Twice!

  5. Hi Alex,

    Michelle started blogging in 2009 so she was definitely first on the blogging scene! I remember thinking "damn" at the time.

    I started this year and have been following Michelle. I saw that she had written an article for you, so I thought that I'd copy her.

    Then I saw that she had written a couple of reviews so I copied her again. I'm definitely the follower.

    We've known eachother for about 8-10 years I think. I'm not really sure must ask her.

    I once worked for a homeless community for 25 a week. It may even have been worse than summer school!