They say ‘those who can’t do teach’ but have you ever actually really heard anything real and reliable and honest from a teacher? Perhaps you have some horror stories of your own teachers, or your kid’s teacher really grinds your gears? Maybe you have a fantastic relationship and respect for teachers. Perhaps you have no opinion at all. I’m here to tell you some of our truth.
I should start by saying that: right about July is when teachers are right about ready to … well cry, or die, or … some other rhyming phrase that links to despair and exhaustion. Frankly, we’re all shattered. And yes, we are looking forward to the holidays. And nope, we didn’t become teachers ‘just for the holidays,’ because although they are FREAKING WONDERFUL (as I type, I only have 10 working days until I get nearly 6 weeks off – I know, I even hate myself a little bit) they are not the reason I became a teacher.
That’s hard to believe, right? It might sound a bit mental but the holidays are just … well a time for teachers to do normal people things like: see friends (very, very patient friends who understand that life only occurs outside term time), spend time with family (ditto friends), look after themselves (it turns out that wine isn’t actually one of your five a day, but it certainly is a necessity on a Friday night) and generally calm the hell down (I am personally looking forward to being able to sleep through 7/7 nights without waking up in a cold sweat about whether I’ve marked little Jonny’s homework).
It’s not all bad though. I am not a moany teacher. I freaking love being a teacher. I hate moany teachers. They give us all a bad rep and frankly, I want to moan at them. More than that – I want to say, “YES WE ALL ARE EXHAUSTED AND YES THEY’VE CHANGED THE BLOODY CURRICULUM FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME AND YES I KNOW YOU’D RATHER STICK PINS IN YOUR EYES THAN READ ONE MORE STORY THAT ENDED IN ‘AND THEN I WOKE UP…’ BUT IT’S A PRETTY WONDERFUL JOB.”
Firstly, the holidays, of course. Then there’s the really great way of spending a Sunday – at your kitchen table, with a pen (green – because red this year is not deemed ‘aggressive’) and a planner, poking around with plans whilst your other half huffs at the Sunday roast he’s cooking ALONE AGAIN. Then there’s the days spent at school for 12 hours (very little break) because you really should speak to every single parent of the children you teach – even if you have 2 classes and that means 60 faces and targets and smiles and hand-shakes and sometimes tears. Then there’s the hormones and the stress and the moans and the ‘I hate this, it’s SO BORING!’ when you’re only really trying to teach your students the subjunctive (which of course you CHOSE to teach because it’s just so USEFUL IN REAL LIFE and you TOTALLY CREATED THE CURRICULUM IN THAT WAY.)
There’s also the smiles, the real smiles, when they or their parents or someone tells you – could be the guy on the bus – that you’re doing a good job. It’s the euphoric moments when they get the subjunctive and you want to scream, ‘HALLELIJUAH!’ There’s your favourite text or subject or topic that you love so much you would teach your friends on Saturday night – if they would let you. It’s the cute cards and the invites to afternoon tea that you hope won’t kill you as the sausage roll is definitely still oinking. There’s the holidays.
The holidays are great, but mainly so we can eat, sleep, (maybe) rave and repeat. Mainly, we’re just tired and need to rest. And we’re trying our best. Even when it’s sixty thousand degrees outside and the 45th kid has told you it’s ‘hot in here, Miss!’ and it takes all of your power not to say, ‘NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!’ we are trying our utmost, trust me. We’re just tired. And we can’t wait to do all the normal stuff people do like cook dinner, chill on a Sunday and … sleep. Mainly sleep.