I love teaching and teachers. It’s such a fab job – it may bring its stresses at times but I consider myself pretty blessed to have taught teenagers because they taught me and made me laugh (esp at myself!) so much! It was a good call for a career for me.
Back in the day when I decided to train as a teacher all my friends said it was only because I was lazy and wanted the long holidays. There was an element of truth in both of these comments of course! After all, who would say no to several weeks “off” in the glorious summer?
The other evening, near the end of the summer term, I was chatting with a very tired looking relatively new teacher friend about this very matter and I asked about his plans for the summer break. The first thing he said was that he has a list of jobs to do around the house – things he’s put off during the hectic term which he was looking forward to tackling. I recognised this tendency immediately because list building is a habit so deeply engrained in me because even though I left teaching five years ago I still write a list with my wife headed “Summer jobs”! And I do try to tick some of them off the list even!
This chat brought back lots and lots of memories about my summer ‘holidays’. I had 35 summers as a teacher. 35 long summer breaks which allowed me time not only to tackle my list of jobs but also to relax, experience things fully, enjoy spending (quality) time with my family and friends and to take stock. I have some great memories of these summers although some may be a little hazy for various reasons!
Obviously each summer was different in detail but whilst chatting it became ever clearer that there were quite a few common threads that ran through some, or more, of these summers of mine. As we chatted it was also interesting to see that both of us shared so many of these threads – I wonder just how widespread these are in the profession today or was it just a co-incidence?
And to cap it all near the end of the holiday I often felt unsure about my teaching and motivating skills. Now, this is not a bad thing by itself because it worked to keep me on my toes but it came with a cost – wakefulness, introspection and classic anxiety dreams. I suppose I started to become less human and less family-focussed thenceforth.
My young friend asked for advice about how to get the best out of his summer holidays. Why he did this I’m not sure because I clearly never cracked it! But I did offer one piece of advice that I hopes he can take on board. This was to start looking after his stress level during the holiday. To sort out, and start a programme to build his resistance to stressful events (real or imagined) and to consciously promote his relaxation response during the holiday period. Then, by the time term started again he’d be in a routine, a groove which would make it easier for him to continue with it during the term.
Then, I suggested, he would enjoy the terms more and consequently be less tired at their end, be able to work with greater efficiency so have less schoolwork to do in the holiday and be able to knock over all the chores around the house with ease. He liked this. He said he would try it and report back after next summer.
Incidentally, on my list for this summer was cutting the hedge. Not an onerous task and with the sunny weather one I’d thought I’d tackle the other day. Things didn’t quite go to plan as I managed to fall off the ladder and break my wrist. Annoying, inconveniencing and downright stupid but it did remind me firsthand of what a brilliant system our NHS is and just what wonderful people there are that work in it. Hats off to them.
It was painful to admit, also, that perhaps I should have taken more interest in all the staff training I’d enjoyed over the years as a teacher on Risk Assessment!!
Enjoy any break you get.
I loved teaching and loved working in schools because I learnt so much from my colleagues and the students. They never failed to inspire me and make me laugh! My curiosity in what makes people tick moved me into pastoral care and I was privileged to be in charge of a school's pastoral care and co-curricular programmes for 18 years. Here I saw first-hand the pressures on both staff and students (and their parents) and learnt so much about human nature, especially under stress. My focus has always been on offering practical, easy, quick solutions that work which are supported by science.
How Does Sleep Affect Stress
What Is Stress? Find Out Our View On It
What stress does to your body, mind and spirit
7 Stretches and Squeezes That Teachers Can Do Almost Anywhere
Teachers, Have You Been Asked Any Of These Questions Before?
Why Are All The Teachers Off Sick?
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.