Well, usually the first week is spent being sick. This is because it’s too hard to be sick during school time – there’s far too much to do, and setting relief takes time and energy. Usually we soldier on, on Codral, until the holidays. The minute the pressure lets up, all the bugs we’ve been fighting all term attack at once, and that first week is spent feeling miserable.
Then week two comes, and we’re desperately trying to fit in all the catching up and socialising which we had to cancel from the first week. This is the socialising where we rediscover our friends, because we’re usually rubbish at keeping up during the term.
At the same time, we’re trying to prepare for the next term – writing lesson plans, trying to balance when assignments are due, creating new materials. This is when computers come in to their evil own, because they will be downloading updates, or freezing, or the school management system will be down for maintenance. These tools are the bane of my life. They’re supposed to make things easier, but so often they fail us. We’re meant to be using digital classrooms more, but every time I plan a lesson around computers, or any shared system, we end up wasting so much time getting things up and running that we lose more than half the lesson. Sitting around, drawing with sticks in the sand would have been a more productive use of our time.
And at the same time, we’re attempting to relax and de-stress. Many of us are not extroverts, so being in front of a classroom every day requires a lot of extra energy. We can only restore that by taking some quiet time to recharge, which also has to be balanced with catching up with friends and family.
If you’re anything like me, you will spend a lot of the holiday thinking back over how the past term went, what worked and what didn’t, and how to improve it all for next year. There are the dreams – the nightmares – where lessons go horribly wrong, and you end up screaming yourself hoarse, only to wake up and wonder what sub-conscious thought triggered that disaster. You worry about individual students: those trying so hard, but failing; those who have improved, and how to keep encouraging them; those who aren’t trying at all, who are going to fail, so you’ll have to teach them all the same stuff next year (though that last is an issue for small schools, really).
Somewhere in all of this, you have to find the strength to keep going for the next term. Because that Monday is going to turn up before you know it, and you’ll have to start the circus all over again.