Is 1/2 term really a break?

It’s always a conundrum 1/2 term…can we really relax and get a break or is it just extra catch up and preparation?

In my experience it usually takes me a week to wind down and relax in a school holiday. So that’s ok when it is the end of a term and extra ok when it’s the summer!

It does make you realise though, the daily stress, hustle and non stop reality of our day to day lives in teaching – in so far that it literally takes a week to step away and recover from it all.

Of course this means (and using myself as an example) that there is no chance of me completely unwinding and relaxing during a 1/2 term!

Schoolwork!

The amount of schoolwork does not seem to disappear for a 1/2 term break however much we try to arrange things. This can, at times, be minimised as far as we can but some circumstances mean that it is virtually impossible.

Let’s consider what we may be facing and possibly how we can address things:-

  • PROBLEMMarking… hopefully you do not have a backlog of marking to catch up with. There is nothing more soul destroying than having to mark books in a holiday.
  • SOLUTION – Keep up to date with your ongoing marking and if possible timetable Fridays curriculum to not generate any! Avoid bringing any marking home in holidays if at all possible!
  • PROBLEMPlanning...There are 2 situations here

1. You have termly topics and so you need to look ahead at what is to come and plan for                  the day / week that you return.

2. You have 1/2 termly topics and now you need to plan or sort things out for the new                      topic.

  • SOLUTION 1 – If you have termly topics then things are a little easier as you will be simply continuing from where you left off. Simple enough to take perhaps an afternoon or evening to look ahead and either plan for the 1st day back (which I always did) or for the week back (if required)
  • SOLUTION 2 – You have either planned this at the start of the term (if you did then great!) or you have planned for this half of the term during the last week or so of the 1st half…or …you now have to do it in the holidays! Being honest, the easiest option is to put the work in and plan both 1/2 terms work right at the start as it easier to plan the continuity and just fiddle about with content. Neither of the remaining 2 options are great!
  • PROBLEMAssessment collating….Many schools do 1/2 termly assessments  in Maths and English. In a short half term of say 5 or 6 weeks then this will usually throw this in to the last week of that block. Depending on your school, you will then be faced with marking and collating data – and if you have a manically obsessive SLT then question analysis also! The problem with 1/2 termly assessments (beside the obvious) is that it can tend to throw all this data crunching into YOUR holiday time!
  • SOLUTION – If at all possible then spend the extra time and effort to get this marked and collated before school finishes for the break. I know this will generate more work but if you then structure your teaching to generate NO additional marking and your planning becomes bare minimum then there is a chance that you can clear this.
  • Question analysis….I certainly would not give this much time – Identify the topics for each question and write them on a sheet with the question numbers. Grab a few selected tests for each question and “sample” whether they are ok or not. When you have done 1 question grab another sample etc….don’t waste time on it and don’t spend too long agonising. If school is really determined to question analyse everything then it should buy the appropriate tests and the software to do the job….that’s what computers are for!

In short (and when you have a short break!)….you do need to get organised and think ahead.

Half terms are really not that long and you do not wish to spend the break marking and planning. This is especially so if you have a family and the children are also on a half term break as well.

Do bear in mind that you NEED a break not only for yourself and for your family time but also to recharge your own batteries so that you return as refreshed as possible and ready for the challenges of the next part of the term.

The key to this is organising what you have to do and then deciding when you are going to get it done. As I have said in other articles, it really is a matter of getting stuck in and getting the thing cleared – if you dither about and tackle it half – heartedly then it will drag on and take twice as long!

As I write this, it is indeed 1/2 term – I hope you are enjoying the break and getting some well earned rest and relaxation. Put your feet up, get the kettle on and hopefully school drifts out of your mind!

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