I am a third generation teacher and knew from an early age - holidays weren't for sitting relaxing. I remember helping to unpack classroom materials in August and delivering them to different classrooms. This was so staff arrived in the last few days of the holidays to find poster paper and glue sticks ready for the new academic year. I even spent 4 summer holiday weeks post A levels cleaning the new build school and helping stuff envelopes for 1st September mailing to parents. Many people think teachers make the most of a long holiday, the reality is there is so much to do for a smooth start to September.
Living with a teacher.
My knowledge of life as a teacher came from having both parents as teachers. I was used to doing my homework while they wrote reports/marked books/made classroom displays. I knew the amount of evenings I spent with a babysitter due to parents being at concerts, plays, governor meetings and parents' evenings. This knowledge prepared me for the pace of working life as a teacher. Arrive in school 90 mins before school begins to deliver materials to the different teaching rooms I'm in, attend briefing and get last minute information to students and staff. Realise at 2:30pm that the headache might be due to no drink since breakfast. Arrive home at 20:30 after parents' evening and plan lessons for the next day.
Enjoying school holidays
So 5 weeks and 1 day of summer holidays! On call for school trip and summer school, emergency contact for site staff too. Two weeks into holidays and still picking up work emails which need following up. Reading up on new OFSTED guidance and latest educational publications. A level results day and GCSE results days are busy with students to congratulate and commiserate. Then staff room displays, classroom displays, new web classrooms to be filled with resources. For teachers new to the world of teaching I can see why they feel overwhelmed with working hours.
Bag ladies of Europe
I can understand why the perception is that teachers have truly long holidays. The truth is, time flies by. There is time to reflect on what worked last year and make sure to build on it with new classes. My PGCE tutor said teachers were the bag ladies of Europe, picking up leaflets everywhere they went on holidays to use in their lessons.
From bag ladies to magpies
So 15 years later there are fewer leaflets collected on holidays and more ideas from the virtual world squirrelled away. So many ideas get collected it takes time to decide what works in each context.
Work life balance
While on holidays it is possible to start thinking about school less. However I would argue that many teachers are mentally logging ideas for September.
I wouldn't have it any other way. Time to reflect, find new ideas and plan ahead is refreshing.