Jungle cure for jaded teachers

17th October 2003 at 01:00
Recently, you ran a wonderful article "Avoid burn-out on re-entry" (TES Jobs 1, September 26) on career breaks. I have only just returned from an exciting sabbatical. I cannot emphasise enough the positive effects of a career break on a worn-out lecturer such as myself and how I have bounced back into the classroom with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. I have never been so organised or prepared and I owe it to my time off.

Three years teaching sports science full time at Stoke on Trent College had taken its course and I felt like the stuffing had been knocked out of me. Like Ms Tucker in your article, no matter how hard I seemed to be working "there was always a backlog of work", and I was becoming disillusioned and cynical.

With the help of my partner I decided that a career break would allow me to "broaden my horizons", explore the world and return to work refreshed and rejuvenated.

My college was fully supportive of my decision to travel and I was able to take five-and-a-half months' unpaid leave to explore New Zealand and Australia.

My time travelling the world was fantastic. The next five months were spent in wonder and awe.

I visited the Grand Canyon, flew in helicopters, went trekking through the jungles of Fiji, climbed volcanoes in New Zealand, completed the Tongariro Crossing, went sea kayaking, threw myself out of a plane, had interesting Maori and aboriginal cultural experiences, explored Kakadu national park in Australia, tried my hand at cattle mustering in the Snowy mountains, saw the most amazing creatures and met the most interesting people.

In summary, I was changed by my trip and have amassed a variety of experiences that I can use in the classroom as well as feeling totally refreshed and knowing that I have benefited so much from my adventures.

I cannot wait to use my skydiving video to teach the subtleties of air resistance and Newton's Laws of motion to my HND biomechanics students. It will give them a practical insight to the mechanics of motion and will probably add to my studentteacher relationship, not to mention kudos. I probably won't reveal being thrown from my horse like a rag doll on that cattle station for the same reason, but perhaps I might if my students are in need of a laugh!

Alexandra Consterdine

The Old Bakery, 13 Heathcote Road, Stoke-on-Trent

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