Holidays? What holidays?

By admin
28 June 2013

Our education blogger may technically be on school holidays, but she’s certainly not idle.

“It’s so lekker being a teacher – it’s a half-day job and you get four holidays a year!”

This kind of remark makes many a teacher’s blood boil.

Half-day job when after hours you’re involved with extramural activities until four or five in the afternoon or have to attend meetings? And when after you’ve prepared supper for your family and spent some quality time with them you have to spend the rest of the evening marking, doing prep, setting exams or doing never-ending admin?

All these duties add to teachers’ already considerable load.

Unlike people in other jobs teachers can’t simply switch off and forget about work at the end of the day. If they did, who would ensure that talented kids excel on the sports field, in art competitions or on the stage and make their parents – and teachers – proud?

If you think teachers get four holidays a year, think again!

Teachers’ holidays are taken up with sports tours, school camps, leadership workshops and marking after the exams. And not to mention all the prep work for the next term.

Like every year this time I’m at the cricket week in Tzaneen with my son. I’m so proud of him and his team. I want to burst with pride when he sends the middle wicket flying and says, “Mom, that one was for you!”

I’ll spend the rest of my holiday at the school doing revue exercises. I love every minute of this and don’t mind giving up my holidays for the school and learners – that’s what teachers do. The learners at my school make it all worthwhile with their enthusiasm and dedication.

I wonder if anyone who’s not a teacher has ever wondered why teachers need four “holidays” a year?

If you’re in a job where you work in an office all day and then one day you have to do a presentation at a seminar aren’t you more exhausted at the end of that day than on others? Yes, you are. Because for the duration of the presentation you have to ensure the audience is listening to you and you have to think on your feet at question time.

That’s what teachers do all day, every day. And their audience isn’t made up of polite adults but more often than not disobedient, rude learners who test your self-control to the limit. And not just for an hour or 30 minutes, but close on seven hours a day.

That’s one of the main reasons teachers deserve a break four times a year. They’re emotionally drained at every day having 40 kids continually make demands on their time and attention. It’s exhausting!

I wish every teacher a well-deserved break. Recharge your batteries. Because soon it’s back to school!

- Olga Channing

*Olga Channing is a deputy principal and Afrikaans teacher at a high school in Pretoria. She’s the author of six books for the new school curriculum and after 24 years as a teacher, she still loves her job.

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