“We need heroes in education. Educators to be household names just like sports have Cathy Freeman and the law has Geoffrey Robertson.”
– Matt Esterman paraphrasing Dr Keith Tronc
Welcome back, everyone, to a new term, and what a scorcher it has started out with. I believe the temperature reached the mid-thirties here today, and there were red-faced students aplenty at the end of recess and lunch.
I thoroughly enjoyed the break from school and from the various frustrations that teachers face, and while it was great to spend time my wife, with my friends, giving the house a proper spring clean (and thereby satisfy my itch to move house for another year), it was equally nice to be back in the classroom with students again today. I did nothing relating to school for the entirety of the school break (with the exception of a visit to SCIL, which I will cover in a separate article). I went away for a weekend with the wife and some friends, tore the house apart (figuratively, of course) giving it a spring clean when Mrs C21st went back to work at the end of week one, started pre-season training for refereeing, and spent some time reading for pleasure (I have finally finished the current book in the Song of Ice and Fire series), gaming on both console and computer, had a catch-up dinner with friends from university, and generally pottered about the house. No planning, programming, Twitter (though I did miss some excellent #SatChatOC sessions), blogging…..nothing to do with school until I worked out what I was doing today, last night after dinner.
Oddly enough, I actually felt guilty for it. I did have grand plans of getting a few things in particular done, and it just did no eventuate. I could not summon the motivation to do anything. It was not until I had a conversation with my sister-in-law and a few teacher friends who said the same thing, that I decided that it was okay to take a break, an actual break. Mentally, I think I definitely needed it. For our won wellbeing, we, as teachers, need to dis-engage periodically to refresh and revitalise. For our sake and for our students’ sake it needs to happen. Particularly given the intensity of day one of a term.
The first day back for the term is an interesting one, as an RFF teacher. Whereas a single-class teacher (i.e. someone with a permanent class of their own) has the whole day to re-engage with the students and get the class functioning smoothly again after a two week separation, an RFF teacher has a much smaller amount of time. For me, I have thirty minutes (Kindergarten to Year Two), forty-five minutes (Year Three and Four) and sixty minutes (Year Five and Six), and that is all I get. It presents quite the conundrum, and one which I do not feel like I faced in Term Two or Three, for some reason. I ended up doing a brief round up of what each student did on their holidays (“tell me one awesome thing you did”) and was pleasantly surprised and happy with the responses (no-one said “nothing”), a brief recap of what we did last term, and the overall plans for this term, and for my year five and six classes today, we engaged with the next lesson in the sequence of the current unit, after reviewing what we had done thus far. It seemed to work well today. My students left with smiles on their faces, excited to be back and looking forward to when I see them next.
I hope you took time out for your own well-being, to spend time with friends and family, to engage with some guilty-pleasure reading, get housework done, gardening or whatever it is that you do to relax and disengage with teaching for a few moments.