All the teachers I know need at least two weeks to become “de-schooled” and relax into their holidays. They finish each semester in such a frenzy of busyness that they are desperate for a break. They depend on adrenaline and the last reserves of their immune systems so that they may get sick only when the holiday starts.
This seems to be an accepted part of our profession. But why should it be? Isn’t the fact that everyone, including students, is so exhausted and depleted by the time holidays come around that they barely have the energy to enjoy them rather an embarassment for our schools? Exactly what is it that we are doing that demands so much energy and overwhelms us all so much?
Not much, really.
Let me qualify that. We are doing lots of stuff, thousands of things, a mountain of routine tasks. Countless pointless formalities. Endless inexplicable traditions. In my school, for example, there was a whole load of things going on that nobody could rationalise. At one point, as all the classes did “transition day” and rather pointlessly went up to the next grade for 40 minutes, one teacher looked up at me with exhausted eyes and shrugged. The gesture said it all. It said this was another in a long list of things we’re doing without knowing why. It said this was turning into another experience that will have little or no impact on the students themselves. It said that we were, once again, caught in that familiar trap of doing, not being.
I suggest that all schools carry out an experiment for the next couple of years. If everyone reaches the end of each semester exhausted and ready to be out of there then consider that as a serious warning signal that there are problems with the school. Then, and this is the clever part, act on those findings! Discuss what makes the place that way. Simplify. Remove things. Rethink formalities and traditions. Try your absolute hardest to make school a place you feel sad to say goodbye to for a while, not somewhere you can’t wait to get out of!