Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The 12 Descriptors of Christmas - An End of Term Story

Across the world educators are getting ready for Christmas.  Here in New Zealand and Australia, schools are not only getting ready for Christmas, but they are shutting up for Summer.  The last term before school breaks up for Summer is a busy one.  I have been thinking about the words that describe this time of year.  
The following Twelve are a mix of perspective - mine (the educator) and Techno Man (the long suffering spouse of an educator).   What would you add?

The 12 Descriptors of Christmas

1. Relief! 

One of the first emotions a teacher often has when the final bell rings, and the students' and parents' have left the school grounds, is relief.  Relief they survived and relief they can finally drop down in an exhausted heap and take some time to relax.  


2. Celebration 

The end of term, and the end of year is one big celebration.  At our place celebration is also code for fabulous end of year/term morning teas and more food than you can shake a stick at.  Teachers' are celebrating prize giving evenings and assemblies, student achievement and farewelling colleagues' and senior students' as they head off to explore new horizons. 

3. Tethered!

Teachers' remain tethered to their jobs, according to Techno Man.  This was the first word he used to describe an end of term teacher.  He remarked that whilst we may well be on 'holiday', we would still be thinking about school and the upcoming year.  He is right.  We are not the best at 'shutting off'.  I have been known to cut out resources for my new class on Christmas Day, and hunting for resources on my first overseas holiday - much to the consternation of Techno Man at the time!  


4. Apprehension!

There is a certain level of apprehension as the end of year approaches.  Will we make it to the end of the year without any 'surprises'?  What will the new school year bring and do I have the resources I need to ensure any challenges I meet will be overcome?  These and other universal wonderings jostle alongside all the other self talk that the end of term brings.  


5. Courageous! 

Another Techno Man descriptor.  Courageous for surviving for so long without crumbling and often times when under immense pressure from demanding parents, challenging students and ludicrous policy demands from policy makers with limited understanding of the impact of their decisions.


6.  Calm

This is something that descends upon a teacher as the craziness of end of term and Christmas ease themselves into Summer break.  For some of us it takes longer to let the stresses ease off our weary limbs.  Another accurate Techno Man descriptor.  The more I thought about it, the more I realised he is right.  It takes time to relax and it takes time to become 'normal' again.  (I think he is looking forward to the 'normalcy' arriving in our house).

8. Excitement!

There is a certain level of excitement that comes with the end of term and Summer break.  For some it is the excitement of spending time with friends and family, exploring their interests and hobbies and having a holiday.  For others, it is the excitement of what the new year will bring, the changes that a school will be introducing and exploring and what the journey with a new group of students will be like.  At our place, despite the fact 'schools out', teachers have been back to collaborate and plan an exciting Inquiry for 2015, although it wasn't a requirement, they were all there.  It can be difficult to describe to a non educator that tingle of excitement teachers get planning for the coming year.  Perhaps it is the freshness of a clean start. 


9.  Farewells!

The end of year/term is one where we farewell leaving students', teachers'/staff and families' that may have had a long standing relationship with our school.  It is a time of sadness and transition. Sadness because farewells are always a signal of an end of an era, and transition because the people you farewell are always off to begin a new journey.

10. Change!

They say 'change is inevitable except from a vending machine' and this is apt when discussing the lead up to Summer Holidays.  End of term is closure and getting ready for the changes that the coming year brings.  Schools are busy places, they are never static and change is constant.  For some teachers, they will be changing classrooms or changing schools.  Some will be leaving the profession and some will be about to embark on new challenges.  All teachers tidy up one year and get ready for the changes that will be coming their way in the new year.  Packing up classrooms, clearing off displays and putting away resources - change is a big part of the end of year.  


11. Exhaustion!

I left this one for second last.  End of year/term is madness incarnate.  The only people who can really relate to this and understand how bone tired a teacher/educator is are those in the profession and those poor creatures who share a home with them.  Each of us has our own barometers and each of us know which particular straw is the defining straw that will break us.  Reports, meetings, end of year planning, data, students who are 'over it' and 'tired', and a myriad of other things that make up the end of year 'crazy' all add to an educator dropping with exhaustion.  

12. Family 

Left for last is the most important, and one I nearly overlooked but was reminded about by Techno Man.  The is the time of year when our families get to have us back.  For the most part, they have been ignored, taken for granted and snapped at while we grapple with end of year hustle and bustle.  Now we get to be wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles and aunties, friends and human beings.  

Finally, whether you are on the other side of the world contemplating a white Christmas and a short break, or here in the Southern hemisphere contemplating a hot Christmas, sun, beaches, pavlova and a longer holiday - happy holidays.  May the new year bring you all you desire!  To the educators and support workers in our schools, thank you for your hard work.  To the people who live in your house - thank you for supporting us, and for understanding - you deserve a medal!! 

Merry Christmas to you all. 

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