At the end of August last year, a tweet by a well-followed teacher lamented the end of the break and complained heartily about the fact that the summer holidays weren’t twice as long. A reply popped up from a person who doesn’t work in education, pointing out that, compared with most people’s summer vacations, teachers had little to moan about. It made me smile.
We should cherish our holidays and make the most of every well-earned day. As we are knee-deep into what is, for many, the longest holiday of the year, it seems like a good time to consider how we use the days away from work. We put so much of ourselves into working hard during term time, it would make sense to put as much conscious effort into relaxing. But how do educators kick their heels up when they’re off duty?
A brief consultation with colleagues from around the country allowed me to amass a list of the ways in which stressed educators characteristically slide into summer tranquillity. Are you one of the following types?
The List Maker
This conscientious educator creates lists throughout the year of fun things to do over the summer – and then they get on and do them. They squirrel away doorstop books to read and collect Oscar-winning films to watch. They buy advance tickets to exclusive gallery tours and sell-out museum exhibitions, planning their time off with efficiency and care. They make time to meet their friends in independent coffee shops and host regular family barbecues where their generosity, as well as their soy-glazed salmon, is legendary. We will never be as lovely as they are, but any jealous attempt to throw shade will only serve to shine a spotlight on our own ketchup-stained incompetence.
The Netflix Owl
Do you accidentally stay up later and later in the evening, just because you can? Has your “just one more episode” Netflix habit accidentally tipped into an entire series of House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Stranger Things? A surprising number of colleagues confessed to being almost nocturnal by the first week in August, enjoying the freedom to sleep by their own rules while being away from the nine-to-five. This revert-to-teen strategy is liberating and rebellious, but requires discipline when gradually returning to join the daylight folk. Alarm-clock cold turkey is ill advised. The Netflix Owl can be spotted by their overuse of the phrase “fuck it”, uttered just before embarking on yet another episode, as the sun begins to rise.
The Body Listener
Quite different from the rock ’n’ roll nature of the Netflix Owl, the Body Listener is in tune with their physical needs and meets them at every opportunity. They sleep when they are tired, eat when they are hungry and are partial to bouts of strenuous exercise. They often reject the three main food groups (meat, cheese and sweets) and can be found in the summer months baking circular health-mounds, sweetened with costly, plant-based gloop or, god forbid, apple juice. They attempt to pass off these culinary hate crimes as “muffins”. Approach these motivated Paltrows at your peril. Their glowing attractiveness may diddle you into taking up yoga or, worse still, becoming sugar-free.
The Educator Deluxe
The Educator Deluxe is a relaxation expert. Their teacher wage is a second, far lesser income that helps fund little extras like a housekeeper, first-class travel and £800 handbags. Not having to work for a living doesn’t undermine their prowess as an education professional, but gives a certain confident serenity to their persona. Their wealth is their home life and they are having an affair with being a teacher.
This lover of luxury sips wine in a Provençal villa during the summer months and fresh juices in a Caribbean boutique hotel in winter. They would never holiday (yes, “to holiday” is a verb in posh-speak) anywhere that a lottery winner or Premier League footballer might pitch up. They can also be found near horses or in farm shops. Wherever Ocado delivers. Obvs.
This is an edited version of an article from the 19 August edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents.
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