There is no doubt in my mind that I am a much nicer person when on school holidays. I don’t snap, I don’t fall asleep at social gatherings and I don’t replay the events of the day over and over in my head as I wait for sleep to hit.
Instead, I fill my days with all sorts of important activities to ensure that I completely forget about any school-related tasks awaiting completion and steadfastly walk in the opposite direction every time I see a “Back to School” sale sign. That works well up to a point.
All teachers know that school is on the horizon when they have their first school-related dream for January. It might be the time-honoured classic of arriving and having to teach a different subject or finding that you have no control in the classroom or, in my case, just the vision of work I should be doing and running through key events that will happen in the early weeks that I need to start planning.
These dreams are enough to interrupt to your holiday spirit and challenge your relaxation but not enough to necessarily kick-start a proactive response despite all the anxiety and tension.
In fact, this is about the time in the holidays that I head off to do my stationery shopping. I figure that this is the first step to getting organised for the year ahead and how much I spend is directly proportional to the amount of guilt I feel for not being better organised for the year ahead. If I start buying 24 packs of highlighters, pens in bulk and a whole set of new, colour-coded folders, one can safely assume I have done no preparation whatsoever.
The next stage of successful preparation for the school year, without doing any school work, involves updating your wardrobe. I feel this is a crucial step in readying myself for school and is a phase that I choose to spend a considerable amount of time pursuing. Of course, it is easy to become side-tracked whilst shopping for clothes for school and end up buying a whole lot of completely unrelated items as well. Perhaps this is why this is my favourite phase.
I also like to ensure that I have had at least one catch-up with a select group of colleagues — no need to include the entire staff, just the people you rely on and work closely with.
This is a good mental preparation and an opportunity to hash out the overhanging issues of 2014. Conjecturing about new staff, issues with administration and whether that disgruntled teacher who threatened not to return will actually make an appearance on the first day are crucial to getting your head back in the game.
It’s also reassuring to hear that others have bought new stationery and clothes as well, but have failed to read the first novel they are teaching for the year or photocopy worksheets for day 1. Welcome back!
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.