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Andrew Pallotta: Educators Shift Focus During Summer Months

Summertime means barbecues, sunny days and relaxing visits to the beach. But for education professionals, summer is much more. July and August means professional development, sometimes second jobs and for those teaching summer school, lessons plans and paper grading.

For many 12-month school employees, such as central office staff and facilities professionals, summer is the start of their busy season. Activities like large-scale curriculum development and building and grounds projects, often aren’t possible while school is in session.

The summer break is prime time for professional learning for state educators. Did you know all professionally certified teachers, and many teaching assistants, must complete 100 Continuing Teacher and Leader hours every five years to maintain their certification?

There’s a reason New York State educators are noted for their excellence. Like doctors, lawyers and other highly trained professionals, a teacher’s education doesn’t stop once they earn their teaching certificate. It’s ongoing throughout their career.

A great example is the SEMI High Tech U program that we hosted at NYSUT headquarters in July. Scores of educators met for two days to learn from industry professionals about new developments in the fields of nanotechnology, microchips and semiconductors.

NYSUT also offers a wide range of high-quality, affordable coursework through our Education and Learning Trust. The program helps educators and support staff meet professional education requirements and learn valuable skills.

This summer members engaged in hundreds of hours of professional learning through NYSUT ELT. From learning how to create a more dynamic classroom environment, to culturally responsive teaching strategies for diverse students, members switched gears from instructors to students, learning the latest research-based classroom strategies.

NYSUT educators also led the fifth annual Capital Region Institute for Human Rights Teen Summer Symposium at NYSUT headquarters. The three-day event taught students about a range of issues, including women’s rights, LGBTQ concerns and climate change. It also raised awareness about how teens can make an impact in their communities.

And let’s not forget — for many professionals in education, hours in the classroom, bus garage, or school cafeteria, are traded for hours at the cash register, waiting tables, landscaping, or at other summer jobs to help make ends meet. Recent data from the National Survey of Teachers and Principals showed that nearly one in five teachers hold a second job — both during the school year and during the summer months.

So as you enjoy the heady days of summer with your children, know that their teachers and other school staffers are working hard on their behalf. Perhaps when school starts in September, ask these professionals what they did over the summer. It’s a good bet that it was a lot more than sitting by the pool.

Andy Pallotta, a former elementary teacher, is president of the more than 600,000-member New York State United Teachers.

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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