'Whisper it…I can’t wait to go back to school'

The holiday is too long – the anticipation of starting back is like the run-up to Christmas, says teacher Sammy McHugh

Teacher Sammy McHugh says she can't wait for the starting gun to signal the new school year

Shush, don’t tell anyone…but I actually can’t wait to go back to school. I get weirdly excited when I think about returning – it’s a bit like the anticipation some feel in the lead-up to Christmas – except it’s a whirr of fluorescent markers and pristine lunchboxes instead of Elf repeats and tinsel. 

I begin thinking about what I’ll do on that first day: the new activities I’m going to try and, of course, the pupils and colleagues I haven’t seen for many weeks. There’s something about the freshness of a new year that really appeals to me and makes me genuinely happy – it’s always been the case.

When I was young, my mum used to take me out to Marks and Spencer for my uniform and Dolcis for shoes, then we’d go on to John Menzies to stock up on paper, pens and a cool new pencil case. I would rush home for a “fashion show” with all of my new things, while my brother would reluctantly drag himself around the living room with the collar of his new starchy shirt scratching his moody wee chin. A lot of my friends thought I was weird, too, and would tell me so in rather bombastic terms. Unperturbed, I would plan my new image while packing and repacking my dynamic new-fangled school bag with 32 sections and matching drinks bottle in anticipation of the big day.


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Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays and look forward to them as much as the next shattered teacher, but once I’ve had a couple of weeks relaxing and recharging, I’m already thinking about the next term – the excitement and anticipation I had as a pupil is still there.

I love seeing the new classes

I do think that it’s something to do with the length of the summer break. I’ve always found the six or seven weeks far too long, and I used to joke about getting a part-time job over the summer (I kid you not). Now I’m a parent, I don’t need the part-time job any more and the month of July now feels even longer (only joking, my lovely children!). I would definitely be up for shorter and more frequent holidays during the year – but that’s a debate for another time.

I do all my education reading over the summer because, like most teachers, I’m too busy doing the actual education thing during term-time. I also love following people on Twitter and seeing what’s out there: what teachers are doing in classrooms up and down the land to further the progress of their pupils. I find the summer a good time to reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) during the school year, and then I begin to plan some ideas to try when I return. I love what I do and I love reading about it and learning new things – and I can’t wait to share that with my colleagues when I return. (Yes, dear reader, I am that teacher). Most of all, I love seeing my new classes and beginning the learning journey with them. OK, I know that’s a bit cringe but hey, it’s the truth.

I appreciate that my view is not the norm, but I’ve been teaching for quite a while now so I know that I’m never going to change. We’re all individuals in this job, which helps make teaching such a varied and interesting career. I hope that you all enjoy what’s left of your holidays, if you still have any, and have a great year when it starts. Whether you’re excited about it or not, one thing is true for all of us – once you’re back, it’s like you’ve never been away.

Sammy McHugh is an English teacher in the west of Scotland. She tweets @MsSammyMcHugh

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