After seeing many post about non-working guilt, or working resent, or simply working and being rather happy about it, it left me wondering why, when the holidays come around, that this is such a bone of contention. Surely, it’s horses for courses: if you want to work, work. If you don’t want to work, don’t. Can it be that easy?
Well, no. Not quite. The trouble is, we are sharing our thoughts on a common practice but coming from entirely different settings and situations. Some are trainee teachers, moving into a second placement and ploughing through reading lists or prepping to ease the anxiety that any of us can experience when starting a new school. Some are middle leaders, keen to ensure that they deliver a message to teams that speaks of reassurance and support as we make a start on what can be one of the more difficult terms of the academic year (and the one where most are looking around at other roles). Some are classroom teachers, full to the brim with a Christmas biscuit or two, starting to get that itch for routine and structure. Some just want to stick the bag of marking back in the boot and deal with it next week. For most, it’s their decision.
The issue comes when those are working because they feel a pressure to, or that they don’t have a choice. When emails are already appearing and instead of feeling prepared, the work they complete features on a to-do list that will be impossible to complete before Monday. That the idea of trying to get through everything on top of being in the busyness of school already feels like an overwhelming thought. That they read the,’have a great break: take a well-deserved rest’ email and couldn’t help but roll their eyes, because that email wasn’t backed up with sensible assessment deadlines and they had just finished completing data drops for every year group they teach. For those people, the work they do has a tinge of resentment to it, and the sender of that email could start the new year by asking staff difficult questions and evaluate to what extent teachers felt it was a realistic sentiment.
But to the workers, those that have started up again, dug out the laptop cable, and a pen that isn’t silver or spice-scented, let them be. To the duvet huggers making extended use of their Netflix subscription: the same. One of the amazing things about teaching is that it plays to our curiosity, and even in the holiday, asks us to know more; reading a book can be work, or listening to podcasts can leave me with questions I want to find the answer to. The other great thing about teaching? The holidays. Here’s to enjoying those final few days, whatever form that may take.