5 signs you need a break from teaching

Even before the Covid pandemic, Elaine Lambert recognised the signs that she was struggling to put her all into teaching 
9th November 2020, 12:00pm
Elaine Lambert

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5 signs you need a break from teaching

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/5-signs-you-need-break-teaching
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I've watched so many teachers continuing in the job long beyond the point when their love of the subject, affinity for students or ability to collaborate in a team has disappeared. 

I was one of those teachers. And because I was one of them I recognise a number of ways you might find yourself degenerating, signalling that you really do need to have a break - for your own benefit and for the benefit of your colleagues, pupils, friends and family.

Teacher wellbeing: the warning signs

1. The ghost

The danger sign: work mysteriously goes missing.

In a semi-somnambulant, trance-like state, you hide unmarked work in your boot (under the spare wheel) or in between your maps and caravanning magazine collection. Your reality has slid into a Jungian dream, where you unconsciously disappear everything from your teaching day - it must just slide away. 

2. The wolf

The danger sign: you have a mug with your face on it.

Territory is important to you. Your chair, your desk, your classroom, your board markers, your whiteboard, your stapler. You find yourself attaching personalised sticky labels to all your stationery. You go to the Tesco photo shop to have a mug personalised with your face so everyone knows it's yours. If another teacher leaves their work in your space, you have been known to slide it into the recycling box with your elbow.

3. The tourist

The danger sign: you book the Inset on "Using the Purple Pens of Progress"

At first it starts with you just taking your time to get to lessons, taking the scenic route to get there - via the school cross-country course. Then it progresses to a drive-thru-type lesson where you appear at the doorway like at a McDonald's window and tell them your order and then disappear again (mumbling "I forgot your photocopying") and find somewhere to park up. This evolves into becoming an actual tourist: you sign up for every Inset going and eventually every school trip - near or far.

4. The Costa

The danger sign: you can't physically operate without a mug in your hand.

You don't even like the taste of coffee any more but drift to the kitchen repeatedly, your pupils dilating. You ask for increasingly sophisticated coffee paraphernalia as gifts: first a Boden travel mug, then a coffee bean grinder, then a John Lewis double-walled French press coffee maker travel mug. Coffee is the highlight of your teaching day - it is all you are living for.

5. The Don Quixote

The danger sign: you know you have a quest but you can't remember what it is.

There is a particular route you must take around your classroom. Some of your moves are suspiciously like a dance from Strictly. Some of these moves involve pacing backwards. 

Elaine Lambert is a former teacher

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