Summer: a time of late mornings and mixed emotions

Summer term is filled with performances, discos, assemblies, reports, results, sports days...and then it all stops. Michael Tidd reflects on strange endings

Michael Tidd

Teacher wellbeing: Why there is no such thing as a wasted half-term holiday

You know you should never wish your life away, but I bet that each of us has started counting down the days at some point in recent weeks. For some people, that counting might have started some months back. For others, the looming final day is already coming too fast. And, of course, for a lucky few, the summer holiday is already upon them.

It’s always been something of a period of mixed emotions for me. There’s no denying that the prospect of a few uninterrupted weeks of later mornings, lazy afternoons and the excitement of seeing your home town on a weekday lunchtime is tantalising, but there are also some strange endings that give things a different tinge.

As a classroom teacher – particularly one with pupils in their final year of the school – I sometimes felt a genuine sense of melancholy on the first day of the holidays, as I realised that the children with whom I’d spent half my waking life over the preceding 46 weeks were suddenly no longer going to be around.

Winding up

The final weeks before the summer term always seem to be so exhausting. Woe betide anyone who asks a teacher in July if they’re “winding down” – there are few things more likely to wind us up. Between performances, discos, assemblies, reports, results, sports days and everything else, it seems like getting through a normal day in the classroom is a distant memory.

And then it all just stops. For us, it’s Friday. The week ahead is packed with all the usual events at the end of the summer term, with parents in, children out, events to organise, all culminating in the big goodbyes on Friday. But Monday morning: nothing.

Of course, it’s not nothing. As I move schools this year, I’ve no doubt that my office will still be in chaos on Friday afternoon and will need considerable attention next week. For teachers with the unenviable task of moving classroom, the same is likely to be true. Even if you’re staying put and your curriculum for next year is already mapped out, no doubt there will be more to do once term is over, but it’s not quite the same.

Step into the unknown

For some teachers, the next few weeks will actually look quite daunting. If you’re moving school in September, then no doubt you’ll have started to wonder in the last few days whether you’re making a huge mistake. My experience says you’re probably not, but that won’t make those first few days of the holiday feel any less empty and strange. A step into the unknown is hard enough when you have to make the leap; the six-week build-up of the summer break can make things all the more intimidating.

Similarly, it’s not uncommon for teachers to feel like they’ve barely seen their own home in the weeks leading up to the end of term. But for some, the prospect of seeing little else for the next six weeks doesn’t seem so exciting. If you live alone, then this week is often the week where you realise you’ve been so busy that you’ve failed to make any social plans for the summer ahead, and suddenly it seems too late.

You might be the sort of teacher who relishes the exciting opportunities ahead: six weeks of freedom to do all those things that you don’t have time for in term time. The chance to spend time with family, catch up with friends and generally recharge. If you are, enjoy the time ahead – and maybe drop a line to someone who might not be looking forward to it so much, and book in a coffee.

Michael Tidd is headteacher at Medmerry Primary School in West Sussex. He tweets as @MichaelT1979

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