Monday 31 July 2017

Songs of Summer: Teacher Wellbeing in the Holidays

The clichés of summer are all about us now: the skies are the bluest of blue, greenery explodes in a million hues, warmth hangs in the air lethargically and I even heard some seagulls this morning, despite my school's city centre location. 

Summer and music go together for me and plenty of songs feature on my summer playlist, but for the purposes of this, my final blogpost of this academic year, I've gone for some of the most obvious - the ones that really make sure you know they're about summer.

Ray Charles said "Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond." Here's how I plan to respond to some of my favourite summer tracks:

"...Summertime, time to sit back and unwind..."

The idea that teachers might be tightly wound by the end of a school year isn't a far-fetched one. The stress (not necessarily a bad thing) of the job can often see us beginning holidays as a tensed up ball of emotion. I find the best way to relieve that is to wind down gradually - going from full-throttle working to 100% relaxing is not the way for me. I prefer to spend some time in reflection (perhaps expect more blog posts in this vein), sorting through all my thoughts and feelings about the year just gone.

Confucius said 'By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.' Forget lesson planning and classroom decorating - the real preparation for next year comes by reflecting on the year just gone.

I also enjoy doing jobs around the house that I've not had time to do during term time - this way I get to be productive without it being work-related

"...Lazing on a sunny afternoon, in the summertime..."

Well, the Fresh Prince already mentioned sitting back, and here we have that summer ideal: lazing around, ideally in great weather. And for me, there has to be some time to be lazy - my perception of what that means has changed over the years, particularly since children have been on the scene, but having time with no plans whatsoever are key to my wellbeing in holiday times. Having some time where there are no commitments hanging over me really helps me to clear my mind.

"...I'm staying out for the summer..."

Of course, summer is all about doing all the things you can't normally do - whatever that may be. There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wellbeing - get out there and do what you want to do. Last summer I rediscovered rollerblading and actually managed to continue doing it during term time; if you get out there and do this summer, it might just become a habit that you make time for once you're back at work.

"...Summertime, and the livin' is easy..."
It has been said that life is all about relationships; certainly for me that is true. And what better time to invest in relationships that matter than when you have 5 or 6 weeks free to do so? It's not even yet my holidays but this weekend I've been to dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, had my parents round for brunch, had a friend for lunch, met up with our NCT friends for a child's birthday and been to some friends' for a BBQ. I've also spent some lovely time with my daughters, including making thank you cards for their teachers. If living is about relationships, and living is easy in the summer, then summer is a good time to make relationships easier, simply because there is more time, lack of which is the number one barrier to conducting relationships. 
Of course, even I couldn't maintain the level of social interactions I've had this weekend. I have to be careful about how much I do with others - there has to be a balance! However, without any time spent on relationships my wellbeing surely would suffer!
I wish you all a very good, and I'm sure well-deserved, break. I'm planning to be a little more scarce on Twitter although I'm sure I'll pop up occasionally to catch up and I've got a few blog posts in the pipeline too.
I'd love to hear what your summer songs are and how they help you to make the right choices during the holidays! One final one to finish with:
"...Summer breeze, makes me feel fine..."

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