Tuesday, 16 August 2016

school's out for summer

A relatively large section of the working world will crow at this time about how teachers have it easy, and whilst in my teaching youth I used to prickle at this comment, I now retort with statistics of teaching shortages and how the profession welcomes newcomers from all walks of life - come join us. But be warned because, depending on how long they have been teaching, the summer holidays will hold different cans of worms.

The newbie They are about to embark on teacher training - whether via tried and trusted routes such as the BEd or the PGCE or their sparkly new cousins Teach First/Troops to Teachers/School Direct - so their summer may involve studying directly after finishing their old job or university course. Professors and tutors will drown them in pedagogical directives required to get ready for teaching and learning come September. They,on the other hand, will probably be downloading specials of Grange Hill,Waterloo Road, Gangster's Paradise, School of Rock or even To Sir, With Love in order to become au fait with teacher life on the frontline. As September draws closer the excitement at giving something back or inspiring the next generation makes way to a sickening fear every time they see a group of teenagers standing together speaking their yoofspeak. 

The new recruit They've been in the game a while but they're starting a new school - either for a change or a promotion. Their rational experienced mind will tell them that they have earned the new job, they know what they're doing and kids are kids, right? However their wake up thought for 6 weeks will be mixed with the relief that they have finally left their old school but niggling worries about suppose the kids hate them, suppose the staff do that aloof-you-have-to-earn-your-place-here-thing and suppose maybe they've made the worst decision of their life? August will be spent reading Ofsted reports and past academic data; learning the names of new students and remembering timetables and new rooms (if they are lucky enough to be given that new info - otherwise they have to sink or swim like the new fodder); writing lessons plans for a new curriculum; spending hours creating engaging and challenging PowerPoints to wow staff and students alike on September 1st.

The veteran with kids They've done all the above, worn lots of end-of-year t-shirts, and indeed if you cut them they are tattooed with the name of their school, like a stick of rock. End of term means they start their other life. As mother/father of those children living in their house. Years of teaching has enabled them to plan each day and week to encompass a range of individual, group and friends-allowed activities - which may or may not include a holiday (organisation skills:expert level required for this). Each week will involve indirect historical/geographical education, some sporting action (observed or partaken), timed computer access, a strict cleaning rota (maintained in weeks 1 and 2 but usually abandoned by mid-August on account of the sighs and pocket money involved) and a teeny bit of explicit learning as the holidays hurtle to a close so that the offspring don't suffer from the dreaded summer dip. Evenings are spent mainlining wine and/or chocolate whilst finishing unfinished projects from the last academic year and preparing for the new academic year. Somehow , there is always a new topic or method of teaching the same topic - even though they've been teaching for what feels like a million years.

The veteran without kids Whether offspring were not a choice, haven't arrived yet, or have flown the coop - this, to me, offers the ultimate summer. A week or two in work at the start of the hols completing projects, admin, lesson plans or sorting classrooms with the piece and quiet of an empty school. A couple of weeks messing about where, with and whoever takes their fancy. Back for the August results to get their data analysis done before the September panic sets in. 

I have yet to meet a teacher who sits from the end of July sipping cocktails by a bar, wearing a cravat and a hat tipped on the side of their head until the Autumn term. But if anyone knows one - I'd like to meet them and shake their hand; for they will have truly mastered the summer holiday.