If you are new to teaching or have the freedom of being normal (not being a teacher), you could be forgiven for thinking that half term is a total bonus-put-your-feet-up-do-sod-all-pisstake. And, of course, you are absolutely correct.
Half term is…
1. …for talking to my own children again. That’s right, I’ve ignored them since Christmas so I guess I really should say a few words to them, maybe play a board game or something with them before social services do me for neglect. But just for half term, mind.
2. …for marking half termly assessments. Phew! Thank god I have a WHOLE WEEK free in which to mark these assessments, I might just be able to squeeze in marking the assessment of every student I teach. Ok, I do mark their class work and homework every week too but it’s no substitute for a full, levelled, graded assessment.
What’s that? What level/ grade am I using? Oh, right, we don’t have levels anymore and grades are out on their ear from next year and the govt keep changing their minds about C grade equivalents – is it a 4? No, it’s now a 5. It’s irrelevant, ok? I just have to do the assessment, it doesn’t matter if there is no national uniformity because I need to tick a box.
3. …for putting my GCSE entry coursework assessment folders together. I have been doing it as I go along but there is always a student who seems to have sabotaged their own attainment by throwing stuff away. This means I will need to go into school to search through their electronic files and find something/ anything to replace the piece that they have removed/ never put in their file.
You think I should let them make up their own folders? It would save me time, with my list of candidate numbers, stapler, calculator, hole punch, spreadsheet and treasury tags? I guess it would make them more responsible. But ultimately I would be accountable for any mistakes they make, one fuck up from them could impact on my performance related pay. Therefore, the hours of administration really are my problem.
4. …for writing new schemes of work. Oh, we can pretend that we are collaborative and actually have time to do these at school but due to the ‘social’ nature of educational establishments there is just no getting away from kids, who take time out of their own lessons to come and sit with you, other teachers ‘popping’ in to tell you something of devastating importance and all the photocopying you need to do – which you can’t trust the repro assistant to do – as they just do it how they want, leave it somewhere you won’t find it, so you have to do it yourself – WASTING YOUR PATHETIC BUDGET.
Half term is the perfect time to write 7 weeks worth of work. I could ask others to help me? True, I could. In fact, I have in the past. I don’t know why but no one wanted to give up their half term to help. You think it’s because they aren’t paid to do it? Oh, right! I was doing it because I thought this holiday was paid!
5. …for sleep. This morning, Monday, I naturally woke up at 9:30. Three and a half hours later than I would normally get up. It wasn’t dozing, it was full solid sleep! Even though I crave more sleep during term time, even resorting to going to bed at 9pm sometimes, I can never seem to get as much as I need. Half term means I can stay up to 11 (!) and not regret it in the morning. Wild, I know.
6. And the last purpose of half term is…to draw resentment from non teachers all around. You what? You’ve got a week off? You teachers have it good, don’t you? Fucking liberty takers. Oh, we know it. This week off, to work from home, is one of our favourite things. Please don’t tell anyone that we use it to work, keep our personal relationships together and sleep. If you do, people will begin to think that teachers need their ‘holidays’.
And we can’t have that.