Friday, 11 July 2014

School's out for summer

I didn't strike yesterday.  Despite wanting to be part of the #J10 day - I like how the unions have pretty successfully spun the strikes as past of a wider anti-austerity protest - today is our last day of the school year (Leicestershire schools always break up in the middle of July and go back at the end of August), and I just couldn't justify being part of a strike that would close the school and disrupt the end of year activities.  For example, last night was our Year 9 Leaver's Do, which wouldn't have gone ahead had we been on strike.  As important as it is to me to act with my union and stand up for the larger fight, it's more important that the kids I've taught and got to know for the past four years get a fair deal.

All of which is a convoluted way of saying, "Yay, school's out!".  I'm beyond exhausted this year, and disillusioned with my job for many reasons.  I hope that a long summer break will do me good and remind my of the good things about teaching.  But for now, this extract sums up pretty well how I feel.  It's one of the best summations of a teacher's lot that I've ever read; I found it in a Guardian short story many years ago and the author of it has been long forgotten, but the scrap of paper lives on my fridge...

"Every year, first of January, I'd tell her 'I'm going to start my Montaigne book this year'.  But school would kick off, some crisis or other would mug February, Easter sprung upon us, and before I knew it, the June exams would kick down the doors, and July marched off a new platoon of pupils, some to universities, some to fall through a "gap year", some to the Services, some to Tesco, one or two to prison.  Then September marched in the new recruits.  The pupils stayed eternally young, whilst I grew steadily old, and never once did I find room for Michel Eyquem de Montaigne on this annual Merry-go-Round.  Can it really be true that the more people's lives you acquire influence over, the less influence you have over your own?"

The end of a school year is a cause for celebration in many ways (and believe me, when I wake up on Monday morning after I lie-in I will definitely be celebrating!), but the last day always feels bittersweet.  It's a reminder - more so even than New Year's Eve or my birthday - that time is passing by so quickly, and with it my chances to do anything constructive.  Ok, so I don't want to write a book about Montaigne but there's tons of stuff that I want to do and explore, and just not enough time to do it in.  I love so many elements of my job but of the things I hate, the utter exhaustion and endless workload during term time has to be the worst.  The school year passes by in the blink of an eye, and every year the goals and aspirations I set for myself seem to crumble into dust in the face of marking, report writing, lesson planning and my urgent need for sleep.  Always a new batch of pupils to get to grips with; never quite enough hours in the day to do everything I want to.  These six weeks off are hard-earned and desperately needed, and I have all sorts of exciting adventures and quiet relaxations planned: I can't wait!


  1. I do not envy the teacher's lifestyle. Enjoy your break; you sure deserve it!

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping 6 weeks will be enough to get my energy and my love for the job back.

  2. I feel for you. I walked out on teaching as I decided I valued my 'play time' too much and didn't want the workload of a teacher. Hope you have a great summer hol :)

  3. Ooft, that is never something I envy. I am really hoping you can recharge this summer. x

  4. That is all so true... I left teaching three years ago because I just couldn't cope with the pressure. It's sad because I loved the actual teaching (and even the planning) but I find the rest of it impossible. The work literally never stops