The school year is a long hard slog. You don’t need me (or anyone else) – to tell you that! so here are 3 top tips to survive the spring term.
Each of the three terms have their distinct pressures but in many ways it’s the middle of the two – the spring term – that can be the absolute killer.
The autumn term – Fresh as a daisy!
The autumn term is a long one. It can be a real struggle to make it through to Christmas. But, at least at the start of it, you feel fresh. If you are ever going to feel refreshed as a teacher, it will be at the start of term in September. That tends to keep you going. And, although it can be a challenge with all the pupils’ minds on Christmas (seemingly from the start of December!), at least everybody can look forward to the long awaited Christmas break.
The summer term – The end is in sight!
The summer term is easier to get through in many respects because the end is in sight. We have more daylight. If we’re lucky, we might even see the sun! Also, teachers can take the foot off the pedal, at least a little, with exam groups finishing and a feeling that your job is done.
If you’re really lucky you might even hang on to a bit of ‘gained time’. Even if you don’t, six weeks of summer holidays are in sight!
The spring term – The killer!
So, that just leaves us with the spring term. Okay, you’ve had the Christmas break (which was nice) but you’ve probably over-indulged and are not feeling your best come January. It’s the month of diet and detox and contains officially the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday. January is dark and cold. February isn’t much better either.
Chances are you spent at least the last few days of the break wading through a backlog of marking too, so you’re not feeling that refreshed.
And the spring term is where things really start to get serious: mock results weren’t as good as you’d hoped, controlled assessment deadlines are looming and the summer exams suddenly begin to seem far too close. Panic starts to set in.
Here are three top tips for surviving the spring term.
Don’t be like your Year 11s by nonchalantly thinking: ‘The exams are miles off yet. 5, even 6 months away! I’ve got loads of time.’ Plan out everything you need to do, particularly with exam classes. Factor in holidays, Bank Holidays, missed lessons due to trips, another round of mock exams or whatever it might be. If you work out that you have 25 lessons before Easter with a certain class, plan for 20 (just in case).
This process might be a frightening experience, but at least you will see the full picture, warts and all. From that, you can work out your plan of attack.
Once you have worked out your plan, stick to it like glue. This is the best way of making sure you stay on top of things throughout the spring term.
The above audit of the current situation might unearth various issues and problems. These can be overcome, but probably not all at once. It’s important to prioritise. What are the biggest problems? What are the greatest areas of need? Deal with those first. If you need help from others to deal with them, ask for that help.
With a plan in position and priorities identified, you are best placed to be able to pace yourself and ensure that you are not totally burnt out by the Easter break.
Apologies for the awful cliché, but try to think of ways that you can work smarter, not harder.
You need to leave something in the tank for the summer term!