Jul 04 2008

Is summer school harder than regular school?

Is summer school harder than regular school?
I remember thinking, when summer school at the institute was going badly, I’d think “The problem is that this is just summer school, and the kids know that. When I get my own classes in the fall, things will be different.” And I was right. They were much, much worse.

Summer school is easier for a lot of reasons. Fewer students makes a huge difference. If you’ve got a class with less than twenty students, it’s a completely different dynamic than if you have a standard class of 34.

The main reason, though that summer school is much easier is that for the first two weeks, you’re in the ‘honeymoon period,’ where the students are giving the teacher a chance. And then, as soon as the honeymoon period ends, you start into the ‘second honeymoon’ which is the last two weeks of the term where the kids are ‘winding down’ and feeling good about the end being in sight. So you don’t have to deal with what you have in the ‘regular’ school year, which is 32 weeks of the tough time between the two honeymoons.

If you’re struggling this summer with management, you need to do some serious reflecting and fix things before you start in the fall. Don’t try to convince yourself that your problems are because of the artificial nature of summer school.

Then again, if you have a good summer school experience, don’t get a false sense of confidence that you are ready. I, personally, had a great summer school experience so I wasn’t very concerned about classroom management when I got my own classes in the fall.

It might be better to have problems teaching at the institute than to have a good experience. At least you’ll know what you need to improve on.

2 Responses

  1. Alison

    Just to throw another thought into the mix… I think it depends on the individual’s particular situations at institute and in his or her own classroom whether either will be substantially more difficult than the other. I found that all of the above (classroom management, instruction, my own satisfaction, etc.) improved in my region (except for the fact that I liked the location of institute much much better than my region, which I had expected).

    There were perhaps some different reasons for this. In my own classroom, I had time to actually connect with my students, which aided classroom management and then instruction. Also, my students were a different (and I think, tend to be easier for my style) grade level…2 years younger, and more eager to follow rules, etc. Though my institute class was only 6 students, and my regular class 26, the proportion of serious behavior problems was much higher at institute, and the nature of them was, I found, more difficult to address. Also, being the only teacher in my classroom was helpful in establishing consistency and relationships, rather than being one of 4, as at institute.

    My CMA, as well, often piped the refrain, “It will get harder in your region,”…but then, one of the best things about being in my region was being away from her! (and institute and all of that control over my life). I value independence and my own time, and I was more willing and able to use that time to improve my teaching practice and life in general when it was mine to organize. My boyfriend’s regional placement, on the other hand, was an absolute nightmare compared to institute. So, you never know what the difference will be, though it won’t hurt to do the most to solidify classroom management at institute either way.

  2. garyrubinstein

    Good points!

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