Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm Going to DisneyWorld!: Vacationing During School!

"Mrs.M, I'm going to Disney World!"
"Fantastic, have a wonderful time! When are you leaving?"
"The week before Spring Break,we are going for a week!"

My mouth opens, and closes, because I can not say what I want to say. One of my students reminded me years ago, "It's not my fault.", and he was right. I've learned to keep my mouth shut.

Believe me. I would love to take a vacation in the middle of the school year. There was the cruise to Panama in November years ago. I wanted to go, but I didn't. Just didn't feel right blowing off a whole week of work. Did not feel right.

This is why I am annoyed, or "pet peeved" by this trend.

  • The child knows they are going 3 weeks in advance. That whole "focus" thing I attempt to get everyone in my room to do ? Gone! From the time they were told, their minds have been in Disney.  They have also told everyone in the class, so how are their peers feeling?

  • How important is their education? Apparently, not very. The message sent is that it is more important to go to Disney when it's cheaper, the cousins are going, or whatever the reason the child is being  pulled from school and into Disney, for a week.

  • I do not teach from worksheets. Do not ask me for a "packet." I actually teach through direct, guided, and independent instruction. Therefore, I will not do "packets". I stopped doing "packets" for vacations a long time ago. (If Internet access is available, parents can take advantage of that)

  • How would you feel if you missed a week of work? I have one word, "overwhelmed"! This is true especially if the child is already struggling. Just think, you go away the week before your week off. Two weeks straight, no school. Think how difficult it is going to be to get that child back on track.
No, I'm not going anywhere until it's time for a break. My kids didn't go anywhere until it was time for a break. Am I being unreasonable?  Isn't that what Winter, Spring, and Summer break are for? 
photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc


  1. I retired last year from teaching high school for 30 years (interrupted by having my own kids). Students' leaving for vacation early was one of my pet peeves. Worse was taking vacation during finals. Finals were right before Christmas break and right before the end of school. But the time-share only allowed the family certain dates. I always wondered if those students left college to go on vacation in the middle of the semester or during finals or midterms. This blog is a bullseye!

  2. I agree. They set breaks in the year for children and teachers to have a break. Not so they can just up and leave whenever they feel like it. Those parents are sending a message to their child that school is not important, which means someday maybe their job will not be that important to them either. With two weeks off students have a hard time getting back into the swing of things. This will add extra work for the student and for the teacher.

  3. Oh how I can relate!!! and I COMPLETELY agree with the whole "packet" issue. Parents are always asking me for their kids "make up work". I AM their child's make up work.I HAVE to keep them in from recess for a week just so they are caught up with everything I TAUGHT. This is not their/our generation of workbooks, worksheets, read lesson #4 and be all "caught up". I understand the whole cheaper thing in this economy but it really is hard to deal with as a teacher. I think it really boils down to the fact that they don't know what a day in our 2013 classrooms consist of. They may think twice if they did....

  4. We also, however, have to look at both sides to this :)

    As a child my mother (who is a teacher herself) pulled me and my sister out for a week every February to go skiing during a lull period. She was a PD consultant at the time so had a flexible schedule. We went in grades 1-4.

    Education was important in our family - obviously, as mom is a teacher - and that was never diminished by "skipping" school for a week. We always had to "report back" on what we did - the teachers tended to ask us to present for 2-3 minutes upon return with some brochures or some 1 pager or something. Obviously we weren't following "the curriculum".

    There aren't any holes in my education - I survived Grades 1-4, missing a week each time, and happily went on an engineering degree and then into teaching myself. In return I learned a wonderful skill I continue to use (skiing), my parents didn't have to stress about the lines, or the kids bombing a super busy run, and I have lovely memories of the trips. It never crossed my mind that because I was pulled out of school it was "less important".

    Thus, when a student comes to me to say they're leaving early for xyz I honestly wish them a fantastic trip. If they're a great student I simply say "you'll catch up when you get back" and I know they will. If they're borderline we sit down longer and discuss how we're going to catch them up. It's unrealistic to send anything along on the trip, but with a plan in place, they'll get it in a few hours of work upon their return. It wont be as interactive as my classes, of course - they'll be doing some textbook work, or some memorization stuff, but they'll "get the content" - and this is high school!

    The only exception to this, and when I feel as you all do, is when a student is not only struggling but not putting in an effort in class. Then, yes, I feel like they're getting a neat experience at the expense of their education because I'm not convinced they'll catch themselves up.

    So - I encourage everyone - before you feel frustration, double check if the kid will be a) getting a cool experience and/or b) can catch themselves up upon their return.

  5. I have two kids gone right now (spring break is next week). Both of above grade level they aren't going to suffer academically. But man I hate, the need of worksheets/packets/etc....or the work I spent making a packet, just to have none of it completed. I refuse. I finally drafted a letter and whenever I hear inklings of being gone, I send home a letter explaining that my role as a teacher does not extend to places outside of the state of Oregon and I suggest they go online or to the teacher store and purchase things they think may keep their child busy. (That is my non-p.c. summary version:-) Thanks for the post!

    I was a kid that got pulled out of school for vacation, once every couple of years. I am sorry to the teacher's I left behind:-) But I was always doing something educational....Civil War Battlefield, following Oregon Trail, etc. And instead of collecting homework beforehand, I would do projects along the way about what I had been learning.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  6. In my school district we have several students that take vacations in the middle of the year. And, yes, I agree that most of the time these are students that currently struggle and can not really afford to miss a week of school. In my classroom I seldom get the work back that I do send to be completed during the time away from school. I also believe that some parents do not really understand what it is that takes place in a classroom on a daily basis. They simply do not get that it can be sent home in a "packet".

  7. In todays day and age an uninterupted week spent with family is gold! I have been teaching for 22 years and have always supported family vacations no matter when they fall. These children will have no recollection of a week before "March Break" with me, but they will never forget a family holiday!

  8. Just one more thing we parents can't do right; decide when to take our children on vacation. Even though we also have college degrees, and perhaps work in fields where we can't take off during the school's scheduled spring break, we should really clear it with our child's second grade teacher. My daughter's 90-year-old grandmother is probably not going to have another Christmas together and the family is getting together a few days early in another state, but we really should just stick it out with you and hope Grandma hangs on for another year.

    Oh, yes. We are showing our kids how unimportant school is. That is why we came to you asking for packets - that, and we wanted to annoy the hell out of you. That is what we live for, you know, because we are convinced it is going to endear our child to you. Aren't we the bees knees?!

    And you are right. We really should be training them to take responsibility for their future jobs where they will NEVER be able to put in for a vacation because it just might show they don't care about their chosen profession. I mean, adults never take vacations outside of those dates that are selected by the public schools.

    But all snarkiness aside. Try being honest with the parents. Tell them exactly how you feel about their vacation. I'll guarantee you it will have an effect.

    P.S. I tried to publish via my wordpress account, but it wouldn't let me. But my wordpress blog is onewomansdiscernment. I'm not plugging myself, I just didn't want you to think I was doing a hit and run. You can come over and lambast me if you want.

  9. It seems in my classroom that it is the ones who can least afford it that take that week off, tho not always. I live in a farming area, and for many of the families their parents cannot take off in summer. I just sigh (internally) and send what work I can; sometimes I get it back, sometimes I don't. I have to say, I don't remember much of my own years in grade school, although undoubtedly enough was internalized, because I am a teacher myself! I do feel those students who seem to be absent a day each week or days each month seem to do more damage to themselves than a week vacation.