The half term reality

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All my friends are so envious of the teacher holidays (bar forking out for expensive flights), but the reality is so far from glamorous.

Yes, we get a lot of time off, but the reality is, I (and many others) wouldn’t be able to cope without it. The half terms particularly, are not the fun filled opportunities that people might imagine.

I thought I would do a blog post about the reality of teacher holidays, particularly early on in your career. I am hopeful, that as time goes on, the holidays will start to be more of an occasion to get away, do fun things and let my hair down but, if I’m honest, I’m not sure the end of term tiredness and need to recuperate ever subsides.

I was chatting to some colleagues as this half term drew to an end, no matter how long the half term is, we always seem to crash in the last week, whether it is 5 weeks long or 8. During the last week of any half term, pupils are often doing assessments, generating a lot of marking. They are tired, we are tired; as a consequence lessons are far more likely to car crash, both teachers and pupils are more easily wound up, we have more arguments and the job on the whole, is far less fulfilling. You are far more likely to end each day annoyed at something, irritable and tired, taking it out unfairly on loved ones. The holidays can never come soon enough.

So what is the reality of a holiday? During a half term, I do take the weekends off, other people are free to meet up and do things. However, in the first few days of a holiday, more often than not, I get ill. Not seriously, but when you go from 100 – 0, your immune system tends to crash and you get a cold, sore throat or something similar – the first reason holidays are less glamorous than they sound. Sniffling and sneezing is not particularly conducive with proper relaxing and enjoyment.

During the week I will spend at least a day and a half solidly working; the ‘forget to have your lunch’, type working. Often a mixture of marking, planning, writing intervention plans etc – suddenly the week off turns into 3 days off.

Then those 3 days are spent properly recuperating. I spend at least another day and a half, normally 2, unable to move, sat on the sofa watching rubbish television and falling asleep. As beautiful as this may sound to some people, as an active young person, I find it really hard to sit doing nothing. I have written before about the importance of exercise and keeping busy on my mental health and feeling so tired I can’t get out on a walk, let alone a run shows me a) just how tired I am, but b) also means I feel rubbish at the end of the day having achieved next to nothing.

After that, if I’m lucky, it leaves 2 days where I can try and do something meaningful; visit family, organise the house, get on top of chores etc. All those things that I don’t have time to do during the week because I come home from school, eat dinner and curl up in bed preparing myself for the early morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I value the holidays a lot, particularly the two week long ones – you can spend a week recuperating and then have a week properly off but it isn’t necessarily the perk that everyone sees it as, if it wasn’t in place, I feel I can safely say the teacher retention crisis would be even worse than it is, as difficult as that is to imagine.

For my next blog post, I am hoping to share what a week in the life of a teacher during term time is really like, so look out for it!