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How to unwind in the school holidays: five top tips for teachers

Deck chair on yellow background Jill Berry shares her tips for teachers to relax during the school holidays

Throughout my 30 years in education – starting as a classroom teacher and ending as a headteacher – I worked hard: six days a week (and very occasionally, when a head, seven). I was committed and conscientious, I enjoyed my job and found it rewarding.

The rewards and sources of satisfaction have continued since I left headship. Earlier this year, I was helping with some staff training in a school when the head of drama told me I had taught her 25 years ago. I remembered her well – she had a real talent and I taught her at A-level. We reminisced about a production of The Laundry Girls I co-directed in which she was stunning. As we talked, I felt so pleased she'd carved out a career as a drama teacher – it showed me what an amazing job we have.

But we also have a tough job, and it's really important that we use holidays to recover from the term before. We need to rest and refresh ourselves, building the energy we need to sustain us through the term ahead.

Here are my tips for ensuring you get a restful break:

  1. Stick to your plan. You may need to do some school work to catch up and plan ahead, but it helps to decide how many days will work, when you will do them and then stick to it. I'd work two days in a half term week, four days in a two-week holiday and 10 days over the summer. I would choose when to focus on school and on the other days I'd do everything in my power not to think about work, including not checking emails. Even when I was a head, I did this: the school always knew how to get hold of me if there was an emergency.
  2. Keep separate social media accounts. If you're unwinding, you don't want to be thinking about the latest inspection update.
    I only started using Twitter after I left headship, but if I had used Twitter for educational professional development before then, I'd have had two separate Twitter accounts.
  3. Explain the work days. Family and friends knew that on my work days I wouldn't want to be tempted to do other things, but on the other days I would spend time with those I care about, exercise, have lunch out, shop, read, watch films – whatever helped me relax.
  4. Get just the right amount of sleep. I always had plenty of sleep in holidays, but not too much – it's tempting to sleep for too long if you don't watch it. (Apologies to those with young children.)
  5. Get away, if you can. We'd often plan a break away, even at half-term, because being away from home helped me to unwind. We like European cities – and had memorable half-term breaks in Berlin, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, Geneva – but you can go much closer to home and still get the same effect.
    And finally, whatever you do, enjoy the break. You definitely deserve it!

Do you have your own "making the most of your holiday" tips to share? Tweet us @EdCentral and we will add yours in. 

This is an edited version of a post that originally ran on Jill's blog here.

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