George Lucas Educational Foundation
Professional Learning

Alternatives to Teaching Summer School

July 5, 2010

Budget cuts did not spare summer school. Along with furloughs, pay cuts, and layoffs, it's been canceled in some schools, even districts, across the country. Teachers working in these districts and schools are unable to rely on that additional, and often much needed paycheck. This definitely leaves some worried folks out there.

Perhaps some of you in this situation are seeing this as a blessed curse; you are wincing at the financial loss yet excited for what the summer months may bring. What then to do with the next couple months, teachers? Catch up on sleep? Maybe venture out and try something new?

I'd like to offer suggestions with some even having earning potential:


A teacher colleague of mine started her own tutoring business where students would come to her house. She worked with kids one-on-one or in small groups. The business became so lucrative, particularly in the summer months, that she hired colleagues to help tutor. She ended up retiring a couple years early, traveling, and continuing to tutor when she was in town.

You don't have to limit your tutoring pool to grades K-12. Many college students are in need as well. Say you teach chemistry or advanced Spanish, why not visit the local college and the department of your expertise and put up a tutoring flier on their announcement board?

Returning to School

When you think of graduate school, and going for that master's or doctorate degree, do you get slight heart palpitations? All that work, the money, the time, but if it's a dream, when better than summer to research universities, get that paperwork together, and send off those applications?

Or this may be the time to begin the process of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher. Completing the entire process often means a guarantee of increase in your pay (check with your district). You can read here about one teacher's experience of getting certified.

Applying for Grants

There's money out there to be had! Not just for buying educational materials, or taking students on enriching field trips, but funding for your own growth as an educator. This could include out-of-state conferences, educational trips overseas, and professional development trainings. Check out this site and this one to get you started on the grant hunt.

Teaching Online

More and more schools and districts are offering online learning opportunities, primarily for high school students. This is a new and exciting field in education. It's a great time to connect with virtual schools out there and inquire about their programs. Check out this article for more information.


Already been to graduate school? Some university teacher education programs want experienced classroom teachers to work as advisors to their students who are first- and second-year teachers. Long gone is the old model where a student goes through a teacher education program then begins student teaching. Many urban districts have partnerships with college education departments so they can place teachers in unfilled positions in their more difficult-to-staff schools.


In some Los Angeles public schools Teach for America candidates are being brought in to teach summer school and will be assigned a master teacher from the school site to monitor, guide, and observe their lessons and classroom instruction. Is there a TFA partnership in your district? It may be worth looking into.

Volunteering & Adventuring

This could be your time to recharge, re-fuel, discover and grow so when you do return in the fall, you'll have that much more to give -- and share -- with your new students.

Habitat for Humanity has intrigued me since college. I love the idea of building something with a group of others, the satisfaction of it. I met a teacher at a professional development training a number of years ago who spent his summers volunteering with Habitat building homes for those less fortunate. He said he doubted he'd still be teacher if he'd not done this for himself every summer.

Adventuring may simply mean that you take the Eleanor Roosevelt quote straight to the heart: "Do one thing everyday that scares you." Pull that wild and crazy hat out and wear it to a concert, go dancing, stroll through a grassy park with your shoes off. Anything. Just go for it while your teacher identity is on the shelf for this short while.

Before you can blink, it's September. We've all been there. And it's pretty clear those first few days of school who taught summer school and who did not. Those that have spent most of the summer grading papers, managing children, and delivering lessons often seem plain exhausted, while our colleagues who've been MIA have a certain spring in their step, light in their eyes, and look ... rested.

Are you not teaching this summer due to budget cuts, or did you decide you needed some time away from the classroom? What are your plans for the summer? We'd love to hear!

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