Ah, the summer holidays. Time to unwind, relax and let the pressures of another school year drift away for a while (unless you’re one of those teachers that likes to work in the holidays of course). That said, the rigours of teaching do leave an impression so don’t be too surprised if you find yourself hankering after certain aspects of your working life during your summer break…
‘Break time’ at precisely 10:40-11:00
Your stomach has been programmed to expect a certain type of snack, be it biscuit, crisps, or apple, at exactly this time. It doesn’t matter that people outside of schools have no idea what ‘break time’ is. I once found myself going to a local deli to buy a fancy cake, half expecting them to ask me, “Why are eating a big cake, alone, at 10:50?” I would’ve replied: “Because it’s Wednesday. It’s cake day.”
The morning greetings
Getting that first, slightly over-enthusiastic “Good morning!” from a colleague, and that authentically joyful “Hi, Sir!” from the student who’s always at school an hour before classes start. It does not matter how crisp and sunny the morning is, none of this happens on Streatham High Road in the holidays.
The ‘I’m already busy!’ excuse
In term time you’re so inundated with work that your partner and friends know better than to ask anything more of you. But in the holidays you might find little bullet-pointed lists arriving on your bed-side table with chores to complete for the day. “But I work so hard in the term time!” is no defence; it’s payback time.
Sheer unthinking honesty
The world of adults is a world of thinking before you speak, putting and sugar-coating everything you say with a little BS. In the holidays I do miss the refreshing simplicity of asking 30 children a question and getting 30 honest answers. Even if a few of them do have to be formally sanctioned.
Being considered an authority
At school, I am ‘Sir’. I am the resolver of arguments, the spokesman for Truth. I issue the ‘final thought’ and then, that’s it, we’re onto the next topic. But in the holidays, and with my peers? Hmm…
The good fight
The challenge of getting that student to finally do some work and genuinely improve. That noble fight that exhausts you physically, mentally, and emotionally, but offers you a golden moment of triumph, somewhere just within your reach. Let them have their holiday, as long as they know that this is not surrender, but a mere temporary truce.
The bizarre and unpredictable
If you’re honest, what genuinely surprising or anecdote-worthy thing has happened to you in the last week of holiday? Exactly. But when you’re at school you have no idea what they’ll do, what they’ll say, and how the others will react. A class of hyper Year 7s is probably one of the most creative – if exhausting – forces on earth. Who knows what they’ll unleash?
Counting down the days
In the term time, a countdown give gives you and colleagues some concrete, quantifiable hope. In the holidays a countdown to going back is a thing of dread terror. Let’s not speak of it again.
The students who go massively out of their way to engage with you. They might be the strange ones who want to talk to you about their pet rats or 80s sitcom trivia, and they might be the ones who you have to tell to go away. But they’re the ones you’ll miss today.
Dominating all conversations with teacher talk
In the term time, have you realised how even in a group of 20 people two teachers can single each other out and dominate the conversation with talk about the gritty reality of teaching? Well this is strictly off limits now, because the reality of a teacher’s holiday is not grim, and the day-to-day pressures of teaching have slipped from your concerns. The best you can do with a fellow teacher is shake their hand and congratulate them on having survived one more year.
Have we missed anything out? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo credit: Andy Rogers