Teacher Says More People Need A ‘Selfish Teacher Summer’ — ‘I’ve Spent So Many Summers Working For Free & Burning Out’

“This year is going to be the year that you start working reasonable hours as a teacher.”

Woman having a selfish teacher summer on a road trip. People Images Yuri A / Shutterstock.com

Between battling burnout, insufficient wages, and emotional turmoil in the classroom, teaching is an undeniably challenging profession. Rather than cultivating a restful space to combat work-related stress and anxiety, one teacher on TikTok admitted she’s been feeding into it by sabotaging the best part about the job — her “free” summers. But no more!

The teacher argued that more educators need a ‘selfish teacher summer’ to combat burnout before the school year starts.

"I need you to know that 2024/2025 is going to be the year that you work reasonable hours as a teacher," teacher and content creator Jen Manly started her video, "and we're gonna do it by starting with the summer."


"One thing about me in my early years of teaching is that I always worked for free over the summer," she continued. "I'm talking setting up my classroom, doing lesson planning, even attending PEs and conferences, which is actually beyond working for free, because for a lot of those I was actually paying my way."

@strategicclassroom Hot girl summer? More like selfish teacher summer. You, me, the next 90 days focused entirely on YOU beyond being a teacher. Make sure you’re following along and I’ll see you tomorrow. #teachertok #teacherburnout #teachertimesaver #teachertimehacks ♬ original sound - Jen | Teacher Time Hacks

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Manly insisted that she has evolved a lot since her early years in education and has now made it her mission to help teachers "work sustainably so that they don't burn out."

Don’t give up your paid time off, restful vacations, and peace of mind for an employer, school district, or system that wouldn’t do the same for you. The only person who can protect your work-life balance and well-being as an employee is you.

“You are gonna make this summer the summer of you,” Jen urged, encouraging teachers to make space for rest in their occupations. “This is gonna be the summer that you rediscover your passions and identity outside of teaching.”

She also suggested fellow teachers create routines that prioritize themselves, and that they can take into the school year."

@strategicclassroom Replying to @WildRoseBoutiqueMN Today’s homework: making a list of all of your identities beyond “teacher.” Hold yourself accountable by dropping one or two here, and make sure you’re following tomorrow for Day 2. #summerofyou #selfishteachersummer #teacherselfcare #teachertiktok #teachertok #teachertimemanagement #teacherburnout ♬ original sound - Jen | Teacher Time Hacks

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Just like any other profession, teachers shouldn’t be required to make their job their entire identity — work-life balance is essential for any worker, even educators.

For many people, their careers are their entire identity — they’re bred to strive for challenging careers, devote their lives to work, and intertwine their self-worth with their work ethic. It’s an unfortunate reality that often establishes an unhealthy baseline for work-life balance, leading to job dissatisfaction, burnout, and a misguided sense of self.

Almost 40% of employees admit their job ties greatly into their identity, making it impossible to completely separate their “work selves” from their relationships, identity, and lives at home.

@itsmaggieperkins Replying to @TerryMo I agree, but the piece that I do need to add is that for teachers. It’s an entire identity as a person. So, it’s not just as simple as saying that you would reevaluate your choices. Because if you reevaluate your career choice, you are in a way betraying yourself and your identity. That’s something it’s very hard to understand if you are not a teacher. #teachercareerchange #formerteacher #teachersoftiktok #teacherburnout ♬ original sound - Maggie Perkins 🍉

For teachers, this kind of “identity crisis” not only makes work-life balance difficult but also gives the illusion of “being stuck” in the profession. Many teachers either feel stuck in their roles to the point where they can’t quit, or generally can’t imagine who’d they be without being a teacher.

So, while it can be difficult and anxiety-inducing to imagine, teachers like this one urge colleagues to make good use of their time off. Prepare early, so that when you are faced with the approaching “back to school time” you don't let stress completely envelope you. You deserve to be somebody outside of solely being a teacher.

"I know as educators we are taught to put many people before ourselves," Manly added. "But what I need you to understand, is that when you put yourself first, everybody else that you interact with in the school benefits."


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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.