How do teachers spend their summer holidays?
I’ve listed the six weeks of the summer that teachers will experience as they switch off for their well-deserved holidays. This list is presented in chronological order from the moment school is out!
Which stage of the summer do you recognise, and which stage are you at?
1. Phew …
Without question, the first phase most teachers reach is a sigh of relief! Why? Well, imagine working 60-hour weeks for 38 weeks and still not being on top of your to-do list! Following this realisation that it’s over, what follows is a personal decision. Some teachers will head to the nearest pub for one-last foray with colleagues, whilst others will make a dash to the airport or spend a few hours tidying their desks to avoid any possibility of mingling with anyone, or returning to school outside term time.
Meanwhile, headteachers can’t relax just yet; they have every last detail planned – even during the holidays! From the last day of term ‘leaving speeches’; presents; summer clubs; who is on-site and who is on the ‘on-call rota’ schedule up to pre-results day.
2. Switch Off!
The second phase is the ‘switch off’! Recent research suggests working hours and earnings in the teaching profession, when compared to nursing and policing, and even when holidays are removed, a teacher still works more hours and is paid less! It is vital teachers shut down and unwind – and probably spend less!
Many teachers will spend the first morning (and week thereafter) recovering in bed! For those without childcare, having a lie-in bed is most likely to last sometime after midday. For those teachers who have children, there will be no change in routine with the same wake-up calls at 6.30AM until all family body clocks adjust.
3. Getting Lost!
After the initial excitement of ‘being on holiday’ and following either a) a lie-in bed and/or b) a holiday away from home; time spent at home will give teachers that much-needed time to complete DIY. Once a period of time is available, a spring-clean or a renovation on a property is suddenly possibly.
Many teachers will admit to being on some form of ‘exploration’ during a school holiday. This is vital for teacher reflection as ‘real-world experiences’ are required to apply to ‘bring the curriculum to life’ inside the classroom. Whether backpacking across the globe or getting lost inside a novel, an exhibition or a pursuit to a museum, teachers will explore life in some creative form or another.
This period of relaxation reaches its height, when an afternoon naps become a daily routine.
At some point during the school holidays, all teachers will mark-plan-teach. Some teachers volunteer to mark exams, whilst others may still planning for the year ahead. Because teachers lack that vital time during school hours, some will use their well-earned holidays to plan ahead! This may simply take the form of scribbling down timetables into a week-by-week planner, or planning lessons and revamping curriculum schemes of work.
Teachers are always teachers, even on their holidays! If that’s you, get one step ahead of everyone …
5. Friends and Family
Loved ones will usually feature on the itinerary for every teacher. Rarely do we have time for our immediate family members! One or two weddings may feature (perhaps it’s the teacher’s marriage themselves, as this is the most obvious time to ‘get hitched’) without having to take time off work. If someone is 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 all the dates available.
6. Returning To School
Whatever the weather, teachers will have a brief reflection about examination results prior to publication; they will also analyse and cheer or cry on publication of the data – which can make or break the end of the summer should someone want to find out. Despite no research to suggest teachers perform better when performance is linked to targets, results day has been made worse since the introduction of performance related pay – for headteachers too!
As the last week of the holidays ebbs away, every teacher will mentally prepare for the reality of work. Teachers will procrastinate about the first day back; buy new stationery or a new suit, dress or shoes; sort out any last-minute chores or head into school to spruce their displays. Even better, jet-off for a last-ditch attempt for freedom!
No matter what, all teachers will be thankful to their professional development lead for a well-planned training day – with no pupils on site – where they can exchange stories with colleagues as the settle back into the usual batch of fresh ideas!
Despite the long summer, the night before will be etched with unsettled sleep and distant memories!