The return to school after the summer break is almost upon us in Scotland, with many schools starting back next week and others the week after. This can be exciting for children, what with new pencil cases, colouring pens, bags, water bottles, gym shoes and a new uniform. Parents are generally happy to see the back of their children after a busy summer and children are mostly (inwardly anyway) excited about seeing their friends.
But what about us teachers? Well, these are the feelings I go through in the last week of the summer holiday:
1. Have I made the most of it?
What haven't I done that I said I'd do? This normally results in a few last-minute (and expensive) trips out with the children to really maximise that last week with them, and a few extra trips to the park thrown in for good measure. I'll also try and squeeze in a midweek visit to the pub. It's not something I'd normally do with school the next day, but I love to during the holidays.
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I always need to upgrade my school wardrobe and I always seem to leave it to the last minute (at the time of writing I still haven't bought any clothes). I think it must be because buying clothes for work means I'm accepting I'm going back really soon. It also means that I'll have to accept that the fantasy about losing weight over the summer is over...daytime snacking is all too easy in the sprawling days of the holidays.
3. Have my colleagues been into school?
How many times? Will they be further ahead than me? These are all classic signs that work is getting closer. Summer is a good time for all of us to shut down and recharge our batteries and, where possible, staying away from school can be positive for physical and mental health. That said, going in to sort out stuff you never get around to can also be good for you. Whether I've been in or not over the summer, I always have the same feeling of anxiety. In that last week before school, in particular, it’s good to stay away.
With the end of summer looming, I start to reflect on whether I've slept enough – it is always top of the list for what teachers want to do on holiday but I find that reality creeps in and day trips with the family (often requiring early starts) are, of course, a priority. However, in that last week, I find that juggling things with my wife to allow me one proper long lie is always a good idea.
5. Remind myself why I love teaching
This is the final thing I do in the last week of the holiday. When I start to remember all the good parts, it makes the thought of going back less daunting and in some ways allows me to look forward to it.
Enjoy your final few days off, all you teachers out there. Now, about that sleep…
Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland who, in the New Year's Honours list, received the British Empire Medal for raising awareness of stammering. He tweets @adam_black23