'Teachers get too many holidays!'
“You teachers are lucky you have so many holidays, I wish I had your job”
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I hear it every school holiday, when moms are scrambling around frantically trying to keep their children from the dreaded mom I’m bored while trying to juggle work. They moan about teachers who have time off and make sarcastic remarks: “Another school holiday? Wow, you get a lot of time off”.

Now don’t get me wrong, we do get all the school holidays off and yes, it is nice to have a paid vacation every term, but we truly need it and here’s why:

The hidden hours kept by teachers

We don’t switch off from our jobs after hours, we spend our nights constantly thinking of ways to get through to those children who are struggling to grasp concepts. We spend time after hours meeting with parents to discuss their children. We take phone calls from frantic parents concerned about their kids at all hours of the night and day.

We spend Saturdays on the sports field coaching and trying to get the most uncoordinated group of children to work as a team. We spend evenings hosting music galas so that moms and dads can be proud of the three notes their child has learned to play on the violin. We attend after-school staff meetings and fundraising events. We do all of our lesson preparation after hours, because during school we are busy teaching; We simply cannot go into a classroom unprepared.

I have already spent a large amount of my “free” time these school holidays doing lesson prep for next term.  The last couple of weeks of school (for grade school teachers) are spent marking exam papers in time to do reports. This we do at home or on our “own time”. By the time school closes we are exhausted. This is not a job where you sit at a desk all day, you move around… a lot! It is physically, emotionally and mentally draining.

Put yourself in our shoes

Imagine your demanding five/six/seven year old, now imagine him multiplied by 24! That is an average pre-school class who all want your attention at once. Primary school teachers have up to 30 students in one class.  High school teachers have to deal with teenagers (need I say more?) who would much rather be out hanging with their friends than learning in school. So teachers have to make lessons interesting and exciting, this takes effort, time, preparation and, well, just plain hard work. And we do all of this for probably half the salary of an average corporate worker.

Why? Because it is our calling.

So the next time you interact with a teacher during school holidays, be nice and tell her she deserves the break.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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