So we’ve done it, come to the end of another term. It brings such an odd range of emotions with it – relief and worry are top of my list. What a roller-coaster!
This is definitely the reigning emotion at this time of the term. We finally get to take a break from the crazy, complex world of teaching! I’ve heard so many people say teachers don’t need holidays, or sometimes even that we don’t deserve them, and certainly that we get too many of them.
But I can honestly say that without these breaks throughout the year, I personally wouldn’t be able to sustain the mental and emotional tax that this job takes on me. There is a reason so many teachers are diagnosed with stress, depression, anxiety. A reason why so many take stress leave, or end up leaving the profession.
Having to engage up to 120 individual teenagers a day is taxing to say the least. The emotional and mental demands they put on you is beyond comprehension unless you are a teacher too.
Add on top of that all the outside-the-classroom things we need to do (which is ever-increasing). The hours spent organising a single lesson so that it ticks all the boxes. The paperwork, a lot of which really could be admin work. The behaviour issues, that don’t always get dealt with appropriately by senior management. The meetings and endless compromise with colleagues, some of whom have an agenda beyond providing the best possible educational experience for their students. To be able to not do (most) of these things for two weeks is very welcome.
Knowing that I have the next two weeks to recharge is a bit beyond relief. It is a time I can focus on my own life, my own mental health, and try to avoid the ever-present threat of burnout!
I worry about my kids. You may have guessed that from some of my previous posts.
I care about my students and their well-being, above and beyond their academic performance. I honestly couldn’t care less if they are not academically capable of getting above a passing grade (and no, not every student is academically capable, that’s a reality a lot of people forget or choose to ignore), as long as they are trying the best they can for themselves, and they are happy and healthy.
I know a proportion of my students engage in risky behaviour outside school, and I know a proportion of them come from difficult and broken homes. While they’re in my lessons, I can care for them, be a good role model for them, show them that they can be ok.
So I worry about them. I worry if they’re going to get fed over these two weeks, if they’re going to make the jump from cigarettes to more dangerous substances, if they’re going to steal a car, if they’re going to end up arrested or in hospital.
I also worry about the ones who have mental health concerns. I know for some of them school is a distraction, a safe place. I worry that they might not cope with the holidays as well as they are ‘supposed to’.
Aside from the students, I worry about what my timetable will look like next term, whether I’ll have picked up new classes with no warning. Whether my playground duty will have changed, so I’ll need to adjust my lunchtime work for the week.
I worry about whether the new unit of work I’ve created for the year 8 science cohort will turn out well, and whether the other teachers are actually going to share their resources for once. I hope I can create great lessons to go along with the unit plan, and that’s something I’ll be working on over the holidays (along with some assessment marking).
I’m also concerned about the progression of my pregnancy, and if I’ll be able to work the whole term or if I’ll have to take leave early. On that note, I’m very concerned about whether I’ll actually get a contract for next year so that I can access paid maternity leave, or if I should be saving every single cent possible between now and then.
These two emotions clashing with each other is an odd feeling. Relief is always the winner on the last day of term and for the first week of holidays. Then the worry tends to kick in, when I realise I only have a few days left before going back.
It’s all going to be even stranger at the end of next term, when I won’t be returning in a few weeks time as I’ll be on maternity leave!
About the Author:
Emily is a secondary science and math teacher in Australia. She enjoys blogging about her experiences, facilitating the ‘light bulb’ moment in her students, and drinking tea and wine. Emily is currently on maternity leave with her first child. You can read more teaching articles from Emily here, or about her life as a new mum over at Actual Mums.