Summer Holiday Guilt Trip


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Martin Curtis

Martin is a primary school teacher with almost 20 years experience, having held senior leadership and local authority positions. He spent a number of years out to set up his own business, but has always maintained an interest in education through tuition and supply teaching....
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Are you managing your teacher-guilt?

Do all teachers feel guilty during the summer holidays or is it just me? It was about halfway into the six-week break that I started to beat myself up – I don’t think I am the only teacher doing this.

When did your teacher-guilt start? Here are a few of the reasons I worry, see if you recognise any.

1. I’m not doing enough…

So, you tell yourself you really need a break and force yourself to relax. After about two minutes, your conscience (insert partner if appropriate!) reminds you that you allocated time in the summer to decorate, organise, clean or whatever else. You make a half-hearted effort to start cutting the grass – makes the garden look a lot better – without actually pulling any weeds.

2. I’m doing too much…

This is my chance to relax! Should I really be gardening? It isn’t restful and I’m really not enjoying it. If you keep doing jobs, you won’t have had a good enough break to be ready to go back to school.

3. I was meant to be…

… getting fit? Writing a book? Learning a language?

At the start of the holiday, the expanse of time ahead of you seems so big, you can achieve anything, so you set yourself a goal. You might even make a start but there is no rush, after all, you’ve got six weeks. Before you know it, it’s week three and you have only come up with the title of your blog/book/resource! How have I wasted so much time?

4. I haven’t done enough work…

The end of the holidays are in sight, you have justified to yourself that it is okay to ignore e-mails for a while, but you decide you really must check them – or at least have a ‘sneak peak’. Did I really agree to rewrite that policy/curriculum/resource over the summer? You have a vague memory, but it was the ‘final staff meeting and you felt like a zombie’, so you agreed to it because you wanted the meeting to finish so that everyone could go home! Then you find the to-do list you made, displays, book labels, resources – you had such good intentions and you feel as if you really should do some of them.

5. I’m doing too much work…

This is your one chance all year, to have quality family time or catch-up with those people who you don’t have time to see when you’re at school. The pressure of work is looming and you really need to get those jobs done, yet all the time you are working, you feel guilty about not relaxing, spending quality time with people or whatever else.

6. I should be reading a bookshelf full of teaching books…

Finally, you procrastinate by having a scroll through Twitter – big mistake! These aren’t direct quotes, but you will have seen similar updates and I am not sure they accurately reflect the life of most teachers:

  • Look at my bookshelf of books I have read this holiday – these will make me a better teacher in September.
  • I spent all day cutting out display lettering while watching Game of Thrones – my class will look fabulous!
  • New York is definitely my favourite city – what an AMAZING holiday.

I know non-teachers will read this with disgust – how can you moan about a six-week holiday? I know that friends who are still commuting, or paying through the nose for childcare all summer, are seriously considering stealing my job now. This view of the wider public only adds to the pressure that we put ourselves under, to make sure not a second of this sacred time is wasted.

The nature of the job and the mindset of the people who do it, mean that for many, the summer is one long, guilt trip. Remember you’re not alone, you’re not the only one feeling guilty and it’s entirely normal…

Now, let’s all shake it off!

 


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