There is much to be read at the moment about teacher workloads. I too added to the debate, writing about how it is possible to manage workload and raise a family. As expected, many of the comments on the article were negative, either saying that I was being idealistic and unrealistic, that my situation wasn’t typical, or what did I know about workload? To be honest, I stopped reading the comments fairly early on when it became apparent that the vast majority of commenters had nothing positive to say, either criticising me, their own schools, the profession, teachers in general or other people who had expressed their opinions. The biggest criticism of my situation was that I give up my evenings to work. My choice, and I don’t moan about it. I don’t spend ages marking and planning at school at the end of the day, because I want to go home and see my children. I’d rather lose a couple of hours of my time after they have gone to bed and get to hear my son read, play in the garden, cook dinner for them and do their bath. I don’t want to rush home late every evening and just catch them in time for a bedtime story. I’m happy to sacrifice my evenings for them. And here’s another little controversy too… the biggest perk of my job is the school holidays. Yes, I love my job. Yes, it’s rewarding and every day brings a new challenge. Yes, I love spending 39 weeks of the year with 30 children who belong to other people. But I love the 13 weeks that I spend with my own children more. It’s the very best thing about my job. I’m not sure I could rush around all year and give up my evenings knowing that I only had the usual few weeks off that other professions get. Spending a quarter of the year with my family makes it all worthwhile. What’s even better is that, for the past few years, MVNTH has enjoyed 13 weeks off a year too. All of us having time off together is brilliant.
Any teacher will tell you that they work in the holidays. Absolutely true. I have spent years defending myself to anyone who argues that teachers are only in it for the holidays (although I’m past that now: I just smile and nod politely in agreement!). I’m not. No way. There’s no way I do this job just for the time off. As I’ve said already, I love teaching. Of course I work in the holidays, but on a few evenings once the children are in bed. But the days are for the family. Take the last two weeks. We haven’t had any extravagant days out: no holidays, no theme parks, nothing particularly exciting, but this has been one of the very best school holidays ever. We’ve visited great grandparents, had a family gathering, wandered down to Gloucester Quays twice to enjoy the Spring Fair and live music, had friends round, pottered in the garden, done numerous chores, had a picnic and just enjoyed being together. We have spent 4 days just being in the garden: G was too young last year to really appreciate it, so watching her playing on the slide, digging around in the stones, planting seeds and insisting on giving them all a drink and playing in the playhouse with her big brother has been an absolute joy. Nothing at school can even come close to competing with that. Of course, I’m looking forward to all the fun and excitement that the next 6 weeks at school will bring. But a big part of me will be counting down to the next holiday when we all get to have our own fun and excitement at home.