Why moving house is so stressful for teachers

Moving house is stressful enough without juggling it with PPA time or sorting through accumulated classroom resources, says Ginny Bootman

Ginny Bootman

Woman looking stressed, surrounded by packing boxes

Moving house is a huge step in anyone’s life. But – as I discovered during a recent move – this is all the more true if you are a teacher. 

One of the first questions we need to ask as a teacher is: “Can I have a ‘moving day’?”

When I canvassed staffroom opinion, there was a definite consensus that of course I could. But, as teachers, we don’t like to have what we perceive to be unnecessary days off. We don't like to ask for things, even when we are entitled to them. 

I did think at one point about asking my solicitor to arrange my completion date during a school holiday: if I moved during half term then I wouldn't need to ask for a day off. This sums up how teachers prioritise their lives.

Self-imposed time limit

My house move revolved around my school day and my working hours. I was clock-watching from the moment the removal men arrived at 8am, knowing that I had a self-imposed time limit.

The removal men, however, didn't understand PPA. It got to 12.30pm, and the removal men were not finished. I was chomping at the bit to get back to school for the afternoon.

I relinquished tea-making duty to my in-laws, and rushed back to school. 

Other aspects of moving are also more complicated for teachers. Oh, the decisions I had to make, while sitting in our very cold loft, wading through boxes of school sentimentals.

Home is where the marking is

To throw away or not to throw away? Why do we keep these “might use these again” items? They range from piles of cardboard tubes to small wooden chairs, all kept, just in case. Just in case of what exactly, I’m not sure. Yet we all seem to do it. Home is where the marking is.

But moving house has also provided me with so many new resources for school. As I’ve sorted things out, they’ve fallen into one of three piles: tip, charity shop or that’ll be useful at school. 

Somehow, the tip and charity-shop piles seem to sneak during a night-time adventure into the resources-for-school pile. I never knew anyone could acquire so many paper plates, small bottles of paint, napkins and paint brushes. The children are positively gleeful when I arrive at school with my new treasures.

I’ve also realised how many school-related odds and ends hold special memories for me. I can't – and nor should I – throw out those special cards and notes sent to me by parents and children. They span my full 25-year teaching career, and remind me of the journey I have been on. I will continue to accrue them with a sense of a job well done.

So think carefully about what you throw out when you move. We need to be reminded of our happy times, to get through the more difficult ones.

Ginny Bootman is senior manager, Sendco and class teacher in a village school, part of the Evolve multi-academy trust, in Northamptonshire. She tweets as @sencogirl

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