During my usual holiday visit to see all of my grandparents today, my Nan said to me, “It must be lovely having a week off.” Hands up, teachers, how many of you have heard this in the last few days?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful for the time off us teachers get: no other job gives quite so much holiday time, or so regularly, but I’m not sure it can all be called ‘time off.’ So far this week, I have been very good, having not yet touched the pile of tests that need marking or the mammoth pile of literacy books that need assessing. Nor have I planned my literacy or guided reading for the first week back: all jobs that need doing before next Monday. Neither have I begun to break the back on redeveloping my assessment system, worked out how to transfer assessment information from SIMS to Target Tracker or written the remaining assessment sheets that need doing. I have sent a few emails, and have a few more to send, but I have deliberately given myself a break before tackling the heavy stuff. But does it work? Not really. I’ve spent the last 4 evenings thinking about when I am going to do each of these jobs and mentally pacing myself. I’ve had constant (potential) assessment systems whirling round in my brain (possibly more about those in a day or two, you lucky people!), and I’ve had the continuous feeling of guilt over not having done any school work since 4.30 on Friday afternoon.
But, we need a break, and for many teachers, it needs to be a conscious decision to take one. Given the chance, we could easily fill the vast majority of our holidays with planning, marking, making resources, sending emails, writing action plans and adding to to-do lists. I’ve been there (see my previous post), and it’s not a healthy place to be. No doubt I’ll get to the end of the week and be flapping because I’ve left everything too late, but for the time being (well, at least until tomorrow!) I’m going to be remaining school work free. I hope that you’ll all be putting down your highlighters, stickers and stampers and join me in some half-term-days-off solidarity.