Be realistic about...

10th January 2003 at 00:00
Teaching is hard work, not least because of the number of involuntary social contacts you have to make during the working day - simply walking down a corridor can become an oral assault course. "Have you finished your bit of the KS3 scheme yet?" "Don't forget we have a meeting on Thursday after school." "What are we doing this afternoon, Miss?" Everyone wants your attention and, because you're a teacher, you will respond. Break time is a vital escape from all this.

Golden rules:l Take control of this time. If you have pupils to see, arrange the appointment to suit you. Five minutes is a third of a typical break time, only a tenth of a lunch-hour. l Keep away from the telephone - non-teachers don't know how precious your break is. l Resist the (increasingly common) suggestion that all kinds of educationally useful things could happen during break - catch-up sessions, little handwriting classes - pupils need some respite, too. l Don't lurk in your departmental area - have your coffee in the staffroom, and meet some different grown-ups. l Sit - you're on your feet for the rest of the day. Find someone who makes you laugh, and enjoy their company.

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