Teacher wellbeing has been a huge focus over the past 12 months, with the creation of movements such as #teacher5aday. The Guardian Teacher Network even published a report which stated that teachers needed to relax over the Christmas holidays to avoid burnout.
I have written before about the difficulty I have in forgetting about work over the Christmas holidays, but for once, I have listened to the advice of others. I have completely switched off over the last week and a half, having done absolutely nothing work related, and haven’t even felt guilty about it.
When I tell people I’m a teacher, invariably one of the first things they say relates to the amount of holidays we get. We are indeed lucky to have 13 weeks holiday each year. But my goodness, they are needed, each and every one of them. This
year has been a challenge so far, I am unashamed to admit. There are many difficulties in my class, none of which I can share here, but each of them makes life a little less easy for us as a class. Each of them wears me down a little more and takes a little more of my energy. At the end of a very long term, I am not ashamed to admit that I was on my knees. MNQTH was equally as exhausted, so my poor (also tired) children had to put up with parents who were drained and grumpy. As a family, we had been ill for weeks, as we didn’t have the energy or strength to fight off the coughs and colds. Physically, mentally and emotionally, I couldn’t have carried on much longer in class without a break. I will even admit to having shed a few tears when I got home at the end of my last teaching day, purely from relief because I knew that the holidays were almost upon us.
The life of a teacher is, without doubt, an exhausting one. I don’t know how it compares to other “normal” 9 to 5 jobs – I’ve never had one – but I do know that a teachers couldn’t do their job without the regular breaks. And not just “doing school work at home” kind of breaks, but completely switching off and doing no work. Of course, it wouldn’t be possible to spend the whole holiday doing nothing for work: I’d spend the rest of the term playing catch up, but a few days off does no harm whatsoever. For me, I’m going to have another couple of guilt-free days off to make sue my batteries are full charged ready to face all that the coming term will undoubtedly throw at me.