Across the country public education (and people who work in public education) has been on the news and in the papers, often in a negative way. One of the things that I often hear and read is, "Teachers (or school-based SLPs) get paid for three months off in the summer." For me personally, I've had anywhere from a little under two months to a little over two months off in the summer. Never three. Then I got to thinking about it a bit deeper - how many school-based SLPs are truly "off" from work during the time of our summer vacation?
I decided to informally survey fellow school-based SLP friends, current co-workers, and former co-workers on this very topic. I emailed a list of questions regarding being "off" from work in the summer. I admit, asking SLPs I know personally is not necessarily a representative sample of what goes on across the country, but I'd like to share their responses with you here:
1) Are you working this summer? 67% of the SLPs I surveyed said, "Yes."
2) If yes, are you working as an SLP or a totally different job? Are you working for your school district/current employer or a different employer? Of those SLPs that are working a paid job this summer, 100% of them were working as SLPs. 100% of them were working for employers other than their school district, though one SLP reported she's working for her school district plus another employer this summer.
3) If you are working this summer, what are your reasons for working during the summer break? 100% of those working all reported they did it for the additional income (in most cases needing the money). One SLP noted that with budget cuts and salary freezes she needs the money to help pay the bills. Although money was the chief reason for working in the summer, some of the respondents had other reasons too including the following: experience working in another setting, keeping up with rehab/swallowing skills, helping out co-workers when short-staffed, keeping my kids on the same routine.
4) Have you started thinking about/planning ahead for the 2012-13 school year? As of mid-July (with schools in my areas starting in about 6 weeks) 67% of those surveyed said, "yes."
5) If you have started getting reading for 2012-13, what have you done thus far? These school-based SLPs sure are busy ladies (yes, all of the school-based SLPs I know are female)! Responses included: gathering ideas and materials, researching blogs and Pinterest, emails, paperwork, minor scheduling, stressing out, designed a theme and lesson plans to go with it, compiled a list of themes, ordered and read materials from ASHA in preparation for new students I'm getting, accumulating CEUs, designing a calendar to keep myself organized, making caseload roster, creating a list of IEP due dates, organizing calendar for next year, cleaning out e-mail files, and backing up data/deleting old files.
6) When will you start thinking/preparing for 2012-13 school year? For the 33% of respondents who indicated they have not yet started preparing for next year, dates for beginning preparation ranged from the end of July to the middle of August. All but one SLP will be doing preparation for the next school year on her own time (not during paid time).
7) Approximately how much of your own time (i.e., not being paid by the district) did you/will you spend this summer prepping for next school year? 33% of those surveyed said, "about five days." However, the majority of SLPs asked weren't exactly sure/couldn't put a number on it. One noted that she will spend at least 50 hours preparing for school this summer. Several noted they have spent several hours already and will plan on spending more time getting ready for next school year. One SLP noted that she uses her time "off" in the summer to take time to be creative and learn things she wished she had time to do during the school year.
What can we learn from this survey? Whether or not they are being paid, ALL school-based SLPs do work over their summer breaks. The majority of those surveyed work another job as an SLP in the summer. (In retrospect, I realize that I neglected to ask how many hours are worked each week, i.e., part-time vs. full-time). Many of the SLPs surveyed have already started preparing for next school year, even with the start of school being over a month away. So what does a school-based SLP's summer "vacation" look like? It looks pretty busy to me!
Readers - I'd love to hear your responses to my survey questions and your thoughts/comments on this topic. Although we are "off" in the summer, do we school-based SLPs truly spend our summer "on vacation?" Feel free to comment on ADVANCE's blog page or Facebook page!