Okay, okay … teachers do get plenty of time off work, but what do you actually think teachers get up to during their summer holidays?
Well, given the inclement British weather, you’d be forgiven if living in the UK, you replied to the above statement with ‘what summer?!’ Despite the barbecues being on hold and without making this post a huge list of countless possibilities, I’ve narrowed this down to just 10 activities that ‘most teachers’ will be doing throughout their holidays – across the world – and not just here in the UK during July/August. This list is presented in chronological order from the moment school is out!
Without question, the first thing most teachers will do over the summer is celebrate! They will most likely head to the nearest pub; this is not to say that ever single teacher in the country drinks alcohol, but even if it is just to be with colleagues for one-last foray, teachers will gather to say ‘cheers’ before they depart for their well-earned holidays. If they don’t, they are probably already on their way to the airport!
2. Switch Off!
The second thing most teachers will do over the summer is switch off! This will probably include a wide variety of individual circumstances, but here I just want to reiterate why teachers need to catch up on their sleep and do absolutely nothing. On the basis of 40-55 hours per week, 38 weeks of the academic year, the current shelf-life of a teacher is just 5 years! Research also from The School Workforce census reports that school leaders work on average 55-65 hours per week!
Many teachers – after the first night of the school holidays – will spend the next morning (and week thereafter) recovering in bed – and not just from a hangover! For those without childcare, having a lie-in bed is most likely to last sometime after midday. For those teachers who have children of their own, there will be no change in routine for the first few days. Their children will wake them up at 6.30am even with the alarm turned off …
After the initial excitement of ‘being on holiday’ and following either a) a lie-in bed and/or b) a holiday away from home; the time spent at home will give teachers that much needed time to commence / maintain / complete a little DIY at home. This can range from a wide spectrum of needs, from a simple spring-clean to a rebuild or renovation on the property in which they live. Regardless of scalability, the chances are that any of what may be defined here, will have been ‘put on hold’ until the teacher has the freedom to focus on their home.
Image: Horia Varlan
Many, if not all teachers will admit to being on some form of ‘exploration’ during a school holiday. This may be during a typical travel holiday to the other side of the world to ‘find oneself’; tick off a few items on a bucket list, or to get lost within a novel, exhibition or pursuit to a museum. Either or, most teachers will explore life in some creative form or another. The pinnacle of exploration being when the individual forgets ‘what day it is’ and also the time of day.
Image: The Nick Page
A final opportunity to relax comes either in the middle of the holiday period, or just before the ‘return to work’ period beckons. This will happen in many forms, but experiences can be placed into the following categories;
- finally organised something
- a weekend away with family/friends
- last ditch escape to beat the holiday blues.
A period of relaxation reaches its height, when afternoon naps become a daily routine.
At some point during the school holidays, all teachers will mark-plan-teach.
Teachers may still be marking and moderating some last minute coursework; it does happen when exam glitches occur or for those who have volunteered to mark examination scripts. Other forms of marking will come in the form of planning assessment and/or strategies for dealing with ‘the number one burden’ and time-consuming event in any teachers’ life.
Teachers will also use some of their well-earned holidays to plan ahead. This may be simply scribbling down their timetables into a lesson planner/diary week by week for the term ahead, or planning and revamping schemes of work for medium-term curriculum projects.
For teachers who decide to teach during their school holidays, this may be through tuition, events such as subject CPD conferences, summer schools or overseas residentials in kibbutz camps …
Teachers are always teachers, even on their holidays …
7. Friends and family
During the school holidays, friends and family will always feature on the itinerary for every teacher. In busy periods, one or two weddings may feature; it may even be a teacher’s wedding as this is the most obvious time to ‘get hitched’ without having to take time off work. If one is very popular, and well organised, they may be heading to several events all over the UK (and abroad) and will have designed their timetable to match friendships, family and locations by dates available.
For memorable holidays, this may involve reunions with ex-university pals or visits to see loved ones on the other side of the globe.
Anticipation will certainly feature on the radar of all teachers; teachers with their heads in the sand who, in an attempt to totally forget about work, ignore all the media hype, emails from colleagues and ‘the lure’ to take a sneak peak at what examination results their students have achieved.
If the teacher is not the ‘denial-type’, they may be ‘in school’ to a) see students recieve their exam results b) find out their own results as a classroom teacher and c) lend a helping hand in the organisation of ‘results day’ for their students.
Whatever the option, teachers will have a mini-panic about examination results prior to their publication; they will also analyse and cheer/cry about the anticipation of the data.
If it’s not examination results, it will be changes to the OfSTED school inspection handbook or Ofqual curriculum proposals/changes; which always tend to be updated when teachers are ‘off-guard.’
Image: Freddie Peña
9. Warm up
As the last week of any school holiday ebbs away into antiquity, every teacher I know will at some point think about the term ahead. They will mentally start to warm up for the reality of work.
- panic about the first day back
- buy new stationery
- buy a new suit/shirt/dress
- sort out last minute bills/chores
- head into school to plan or spruce up their displays
- or head back to the pub for a last ditch attempt for freedom.
On the eve before ‘back to school’, teachers will do all the can to beat the ‘holiday blues.’ No matter what tactic they will deploy, procrastination will feature heavily in their vocabulary. It will make no difference what teachers plan to do to avoid that ‘restless sleep’ the night before, they will wake up with one less spring in their step. Despite less sleep, they will be thankful for a well-calendared INSET day where they can ignore the front-of-house presentation and exchange stories with colleagues.
How does your summer holiday add up?