Woo hoo! Summer is finally here. Teachers can relax at last and forget about books and classrooms, lesson plans and assemblies! Well, for a few weeks at least.
When you speak to people about life as a teacher, they always (without fail) make reference to the holidays, in particular those five or so weeks we get off in the Summer. “But your job can’t be that stressful,” they shriek. “Look at the holidays you get… I don’t know… you teachers are always moaning. I wish I had 5 weeks off in the Summer. Stressful? You don’t know the meaning of the word!”
Which always leaves me thinking, why does the general public have this inaccurate (somewhat idealised) picture of teaching still? That it’s all about Ladybird books, leaving work at 3.30pm and getting long holidays. Please, general public, walk into any classroom. Go teach, even if only for a couple of weeks, one day even… an hour? See what it’s really like and perhaps you’ll understand why teachers need time to recuperate.
Teachers work almost continually during term times…
I’m sure it’s not just me who came home from school at 6pm, only to throw a dinner into the oven, whilst firing up the laptop to start all over again. Then, bleary-eyed, crawling off to bed at an hour much later than the norm. I read an article recently in TES which made me wonder if it was really just me. It stated that most teachers work an extra 13 hours each week. “Er?! Did I read that right? Are you sure? Just 13 hours?!” Hmm! Yep, the reality is that we all know that life as a teacher is full-on and all-consuming during term time.
But so much of the Summer is spent effectively at work as well, prepping for the following intake of children, not to mention, picking up bits and pieces for the classroom. (I can always recognise a teacher in Ikea. It’s the yelps of delight amidst the luminous coloured trays, reasonably priced, that give them away)!!
So, in order to chill, here’s my five essentials all teachers should do this Summer:
Switch off! Yes, completely! Put everything teacher-related away. Hide it out of sight for the time-being (ok, to make you feel better, mark it with a realistic ‘due date’ to return to). Maybe you have spent the first week in school mostly and or just in sheer disbelief that it’s all over for a little while. Catching up on sleep and household chores. But, switch off entirely for at least three weeks.
Spend lots of time with family and loved ones. This time counts! Create those memories together. And catch up with friends over a cuppa. Talk leisurely and just enjoy the freedom of not having a worry-list in your head of things to do for the next day.
Go for walks/ take up a new hobby/get back to the gym. I remember one teacher saying that teachers only went to the gym during the Summer (even those with yearly subscriptions)! I think there was much truth in his words!! Do the things you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the time during term-time.
Go on holiday to explore. It’s okay, if abroad or wherever, to pick up some things to show the class; but don’t let the ‘search to share’ dominate your every excursion. After a holiday in Holland, I went home Dutch artefacts galore (including the biggest, most cumbersome, Dutch clogs you’d ever see)! I almost had to pay extra weightage. One or two items is fine, but this holiday is for you and your loved ones!
And last, but not least, DO NOT panic about going back. Yes, you know you WILL get back up to speed. It will all come together. Use the last week to warm up again: do that planning, stock up on your teacher wardrobe, grab a last chance for freedom at your favourite venue doing what you enjoy best.
Go back knowing that you have had a great holiday! Go back with a story to tell. Let this holiday be signposted with loads of good memories. Teachers love teaching, yes! But it’s hard work and exhausting, possibly more-so than ever now with all the new demands. Make the most of your time away and it’ll be a joy to be back!
We’d love to know how your Summer is panning out. How do you intend to spend it? And what are your tips are for a peaceful, rejuvenating holiday?