Fancy taking a sabbatical?

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This time it feels like I’m taking a really long break. Apart from enjoying my summer holidays, I’m taking a mental break from anything related to my job. You might have guessed that anyway since I haven’t written a single blog post for quite a while, which is not typical of me – I’ve normally been the most prolific in July and August in the past. I’m not very active on social media either, especially Twitter is being neglected at the minute.

This, by no means, was some conscious decision of mine. As cliché as it sounds, I need to say it just happened. I suspect it’s partly because back in June, an important era in my professional life had ended and I suddenly felt like there was a new beginning on the horizon. And so on a subconscious level I probably felt it might be good to just ‘sit down and chill out’ a bit before diving in my duties again. Also, the pandemic obviously mixed things up a bit so this summer can never feel the same summers normally feel.

Anyways, I’ve recently been doing the most trivial things you can imagine – reading fiction (obviously non-elt related), listening to YouTube videos about simple life and slow living, watching HBO (nothing to do with teaching), cleaning my house, decluttering, organizing, looking for my style (oops, that’s a bit too trivial, even to my taste), you name it. You may think I will probably have a hard time catching up when I get back in the teaching saddle again. Still, I feel I’ll be perfectly ready when the school starts because ironically, my brain is currently taking in much more than it can normally afford during the busy school year.

The only thing directly related to my job I’ve done recently was when I had a session with one of my students to help her to prepare for her final exams. And that was when I felt the flutters in my chest again – I realized how much I love my job. I suddenly felt I couldn’t wait to be back in the classroom. I couldn’t wait to share with my students everything I’d learned over the past few weeks (months, in fact, because I haven’t seen many of them since the COVID-19 started). I’m sure many of them will have changed a lot and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve grown and what they’ ve learned.

The other day I read a post on Facebook where someone asked this question in a teachers forum: What are you doing during the holidays to prepare for the upcoming school year? Lots of teachers replied enthusiastically, saying that they are doing lots of stuff: cutting out pictures, looking for new teaching materials, organizing their digital files, etc. There were a few, though, who got a bit angry and accused the person that by asking such a question they are implying that teachers should be working on holidays and as a result, those who are just chilling out and recharging their batteries feel a bit guilty for not being busy getting ready for work.

Well, I remember the days when I ‘worked hard’ during the holidays too because I had loads of energy and ideas and I simply wanted to take advantage of that. This year, on the other hand, I barely think of school and it feels right too. So, I guess the trick is to do what you enjoy doing, whether it is job-related or not. In the end, either will be beneficial for your well-being as well as your professional development.

What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that being able to take my mind off the stress of my job for a longer period of time (while still getting paid!) and having the opportunity to focus on what I love outside of my work is highly beneficial both for my psyche and subsequently for the psyche of others – my students included. I believe that we, ordinary teachers, should be entitled to a longer sabbatical. This way we could pursue our personal interests, develop new skills – both professional and personal – as well as gain new energy and motivation. Also, it would definitely be an efficient way of avoiding burnout.