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FINALLY, after what has seemed like a very long term indeed, school has broken up for Easter holidays.
I am really looking forward to a couple of days without structure – where we don’t have to be someplace at a certain time. No doubt, after a week, I’ll be longing for the routine again because I’m contrary like that, but tonight the two weeks ahead stretch out invitingly.
I may even take some time off writing my blog. I’m sure people will be too busy going on holiday or visiting friends to read it anyway.
By the way, if anyone wants to tell me that teachers get too much holiday, or similar sentiments, please DO make your views clear to me – because that is one battle I am ALWAYS prepared to fight!
I know I shouldn’t let it bother me, but I read some stupid comments on Facebook last night, posted by a pedantic ignoramus, baldly stating that “teachers get way too much holiday.”
I always think it’s interesting how the sectors with the most demanding, responsible jobs receive the most criticism, and are subject to careless judgements by people who know NOTHING about the challenges of the job.
Every teacher and teaching assistant I know works incredibly hard. I think back over the years I have been in this profession, and I honestly can’t name a single colleague who didn’t work hard. In those years, I have seen the workload and demand on teachers grow to monstrous proportions – it is a never-ending job.
There will never be a minute when you suddenly think, “Oh. I’ve done absolutely EVERYTHING I can possibly do. I’ve completed every form, marked every book, planned every lesson, organised every trip, completed every target on my professional development plan, created every resource I will ever need, written every report, moderated all my class’s work in every subject… I might as well have a glass of wine.”
That’s not to say teachers don’t drink wine unless their job is complete, but you see my point. It’s just a demoralising situation when your constant battle to keep your head above water is a losing one.
When I was an NQT (newly qualified teacher), I arrived at school at 8am, used break and lunch times to work through my marking, and usually didn’t leave till 5 or 6pm. Then, back in my flat, I’d spend the rest of the evening planning my lessons for the next day, making resources for it (no internet resources then…), before falling into bed at gone midnight. And repeat. And repeat.
During that year, I remember visiting a colleague’s house straight from school. We picked up her two children from the child minder on the way home. They were cute as buttons and very talkative, but I was almost horror-struck to observe my friend’s routine when she got home. She ushered her kids through the front door, supervised their hand-washing, rushed straight into the kitchen to prepare them a meal…all accompanied by their incessant questions and demands for her attention.
I remember thinking, “There is NO WAY I’d ever manage to teach AND have kids.” It was hard enough keeping on top of my work when I was free and single. Not to mention the fact that I couldn’t imagine wanting to see another child once I’d left the workplace – even if they were my own!
Unlike many other professions, being a teacher DEFINES you. It’s not a job where you can turn up every day and go through the motions. Impossible. Each day is an unpredictable brewing pot, filled with surprises, adrenalin, thinking on your feet, and requires open access to every emotion and human sensitivity. Because we aren’t dealing with paper and figures here. Our raw materials aren’t planks, steel girders and plasterboard.
We are dealing with real children – each one someone’s little person; each one a member of a family; each one with their own strengths and insecurities. Each one is going through a process – their own personal experience of the world. Those experiences can range from positive to utterly horrific; supportive to heart-wrenchingly sad; and we teachers have to create an environment where every single one of those children feels safe and able to learn, regardless of their family history, ethnic background and academic ability.
It’s not for the fainthearted, and there are times when it can turn life inside-out and upside-down, but we do it because it’s our calling. We do it because it can also be the most rewarding job in the world. In any society, nurturing and educating the minds of the next generation is surely one of the most important. Important, but draining. Draining because each teacher draws on their own personal store of raw energy, empathy and passion in order to do the job well, and give those children the understanding they need.
So every teacher needs to recharge occasionally – especially after a long term like the one we’ve just had – without hearing snide remarks about our general laziness and over-indulgent holiday allowance.
Making negative presumptions that belittle the work that teachers do is totally unnecessary and a waste of breath. By all means, if those detractors have the energy spare to campaign for changes to a system that ill supports our teaching professionals, then they should apply themselves to that.
We don’t decide how much holiday we get. And anyway, if any teacher spends the next two weeks without doing a jot of school work, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.
Going to take a WELL-EARNED break for a bit. See you in a couple of weeks (unless I get bitten by the urge to say something before then)!