Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


Three summer requests for our TEA family

By TEA Executive Director Terrance J. Gibson || The excitement of summer is roaring in. 

Educators across our state have poured into every student in their classroom for almost 10 months to ensure academic growth, all while navigating the whirlwind of challenges that came with this school year. Educators and students endured ugly local school board fights to start the school year, then faced unwarranted legislative attacks on school curriculum and monumental increases in school funding. Communities struggled through floods, tornadoes, and the ongoing pandemic. 

There were students who started school without the motivation, support, resources, or academic tools necessary to make for a successful year. There were students whose emotional and mental challenges impacted their success. Through it all educators counseled, encouraged, and nurtured their students. 

As we look forward to summer, I have three requests for all members of our TEA family. 

First, I want you to pause and reflect on all that you have accomplished for your students and your community this past year. So much has been thrown at you these past few years, yet you’ve never wavered from your commitment to students and doing what it takes for them to succeed. I urge educators to take the time and reflect on all the ways you stepped up to fight for the supplies, resources and funding required to help students reach their potential. You are a difference-maker in the lives of your students. 

Second, I want you to take a break. Full stop. While rewarding, this profession we’ve chosen can also be brutal. We instinctively care for our students and others around us, but we don’t always do a very good job of taking care of ourselves. Our students are counting on us to return in August refreshed and ready. We cannot show up for them without first showing up for ourselves. I implore you to please, please take a real break from work. Unplug, binge a new show, discover a new hiking trail, nap in the sunshine, do whatever it is that brings you joy and renewal. 

My third request is that you check in on each other. No one understands the challenges you face every day more than other educators. Our longevity in this profession depends upon our ability to foster a network of support and camaraderie with fellow educators. 

Needless to say, educators everywhere are exhausted even more than the usual end-of-year fatigue. We know the “teachers have summers off ” myth is just that – a myth. There is always more work to be done to prepare for the next school year, but I sincerely hope you will heed my request to reflect, rest and connect. You deserve it!


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