Sensible teachers pace their energy expenditure from holiday to holiday, but the week before a vacation, it can feel like we’re engines running on empty. The teaching jalopy tends to glide to a sputtering halt on the day school breaks up.
I’m not sure if anyone uses the phrase ‘breaks up’ any more – it means the day when we can look ahead to a series of days in which we won’t have to expect anyone to pay attention to anything we say. It’s a throwback to my own school days – a time when the words would trip off my tongue so carelessly as I left the classroom, looking forward to all that my friends and I had planned. Whatever it was, the holidays didn’t slow the pace of our lives. It’s different for grown-ups, especially teachers.
Nowadays, holidays tend to be maintenance and repair time: dentist, hairdresser and getting things fixed – anything from the computer to the washing machine. All the things we’ve been putting off until we have that bit of space in the day to wait around for the repair man to call.
In our latest school newsletter, one of our illustrious leaders wished everyone a happy holiday and expressed the hope that it would give us all a: “chance to recharge our batteries,” so we’re back to car analogies.
I must admit there is quite a lot of mileage on the clock but, on the positive side, there’s only ever been one careful lady driver and I make sure I keep a spare tyre with me at all times. I rarely break down, though have been known to make the odd U-turn.
This time of year is hard on the bodywork and, with coursework and exam deadlines looming, I often worry about blowing a gasket. I didn’t know what a gasket was but, having just Googled it, Wikipedia says it’s a mechanical seal that: “fills the space between two or more mating surfaces…” Given that I work in the highly charged hormonal atmosphere generated by a large group of adolescents, it seems I was being more accurate that I realised. Perhaps I should put the brakes on these car metaphors and get back to thoughts about holidays.
Like most other teachers, I’ll enjoy a break, but also spend more time than most people imagine planning the next set of lessons. Neil Sedaka sang Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, but for me it isn’t hard at all.