What is “summer slump”?

By Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools
July 27, 2015

Consider the following scenario: 

world wise schools chicago
Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools in Chicago

A Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) is matched with an American teacher through the Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program. She asks her host country students to write letters to the American students.  They work hard, taking care to write them English. Excited, the Volunteer mails the letters, and emails her teacher to let him know. 

Nearly five months later, the teacher responds, letting the PCV know that the letters arrived in June – but classes were out for the summer. He didn’t actually receive them until October because he moved to a new school and his former principal didn’t forward them right away. He used his work email for correspondence (though he rarely checks his work email in the summer), so he never got the PCV’s email because his address changed with his new job. He has new students, so asks the PCV if she would consider mailing another batch of letters. 

The PCV doesn’t get the teacher’s emails until November because the rainy season makes it difficult to travel to the internet café in September and October. When she does, she is frustrated, having faced a classroom of disappointed kids. She doesn’t respond and the match fizzles out. 

This scenario illustrates what we refer to as “summer slump”. Traditionally, American teachers use this term to refer students’ lower academic performance at the start of a new school year, caused by lack of exposure to educational opportunities during the break. Educators are required to spend time at the beginning of the year reviewing material to get students back to their pre-summer levels. 

In the program, summer slump takes on a new meaning. Since academic and seasonal calendars rarely match around the world, we see relationship slump; PCVs and educators get discouraged, and their relationships suffer or dwindle away. 

How could this situation have been avoided?  

What could the PCV or teacher do to avoid the slump? 

The Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program connects PCVs and RPCVs to classrooms in the United States, and provides a variety of resources to help educators integrate global issues and cultural awareness into the classroom.