How can teachers relax over the holidays?
Teaching is incredibly stressful and the school holidays are a time to switch off and relax, but how do teachers unwind? It’s a difficult feat to achieve after a relentless 50-60 hour week over the past 7 or 8 weeks…
What advice would you give to a colleague to help them switch off? Here are 10-top tips for every teacher to help you relax over the holidays.
10. Leave the canvas bag alone!
You’re not really a teacher if you don’t have a canvas bag full of marking and planning! Laden with bags of marking that you religiously cart from the boot of your car, place under your kitchen table, then cart back again each and every time you return to school; sometimes without even looking in the students’ books at all. With an estimated working week of 60+ hours, I think it is safe to say, that holidays are neither the time nor the place for the canvas bag.
9. Read a book?
When I say read a book, I mean read an actual novel. Not a school teaching book, a school policy, pamphlet or a lengthy essay on a brand new initiative that your council might roll out. No. Read for pleasure! Something we almost never have time to do such a thing, and it’s one of the most absolute ways to take your mind off school.
8. Spend time with people who aren’t teachers!
The holidays are a time for socialising and discussing ‘things other than your behaviour management agenda’ for next term. With the luxury of two weeks (or more!) off, teachers should enjoy spending time with family and friends, completely switching off from school life.
Are those who live, eat and breathe school really the best teachers? Surely those who travel, see new things, experience new cultures are then able to pass on this knowledge and enthusiasm to their pupils? Also, sometimes it’s just nice to get a bit of sand, sun and sea! Aim to ‘jet off’ as soon as the school bell rings and plan your arrival back home the day before!
6. Binge on Netflix …
I always ‘mark off’ the day after school breaks up for the holidays as my ‘Netflix’ day. Do not disturb unless you can also offer a comfy sofa, a cosy dressing gown and/or ice cream. As luck will have it, as soon as your body starts to relax from a hectic term of teaching, the dreaded cold/flu arrives! Make sure you take time to totally and utterly put on the brakes, switch off and have a day of doing absolutely nothing!
Exercise is something I am always reluctant to do during the holidays, but endorphins really are an actual scientific fact after all! A spot of (light) exercise always helps me feel rejuvenated after a stressful period at school. Go on, get your jogging pants on!
4. Sleep …
Coinciding with ‘Netflix day’, I’ve always found that there really is nothing a 12-hour sleep can’t fix. My mind is always running ‘ten-to-the-dozen’ whilst at school, so much so that I keep an ‘ideas list’ on my mobile phone for all those lightbulb moments for lesson plans that hit me at 3 o’clock in the morning! Holidays are a time when we can finally catch up on much-needed beauty sleep, so if you can, I suggest you don’t feel guilty if we sometimes don’t manage to see the ‘AM’ part of the clock for quite a few days!
3. Plan. Nothing!
There’s nothing worse than ‘teacher guilt’. It’s rife across the profession, especially if we are forced to take a day off during the term. I don’t know of any other profession ‘when on holiday’, that one’s mind could still whirring like crazy; or where you look at something with the thought: “Well, that’d make a great resource for me lesson with year 10s next week …”
Although this shows that we really care so much about our jobs, there needs to be time when we are only ‘thinking about ourselves’, our families ,or thinking of absolutely nothing at all!
2. Controversial maybe …
Is it time to dust off the canvas bag after all?
You could just choose to ignore everything I’ve just written above. Sometimes the pressure of teacher-guilt is too much to bear, and it’s simply easier to spend just one morning rattling through reports, or planning in order to put your mind and ease. I spent a whole Easter break once, trying my hardest to follow tip no. 8, but in actual fact I spent the whole time panicking about planning that needed to be done before term started. If it makes you feel better, get it out-of-the-way and then go ahead and enjoy the rest of your holiday!
1. Create a holiday bucket list?
During term time, write your “must do’s’, ‘wants’ and ‘would love to do’s” for the holidays. This will help you to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel! Even if the ideas on your list don’t materialise, it might help put things in perspective and make you realise that yes, ‘you are a teacher, but most importantly you need to have the time when you can switch off’ from being “Miss” or “Sir” and do things solely for you.
Written by Judith Aitken.