There is something ridiculously rewarding about getting on a plane and heading off somewhere warm and inviting whilst the rest of the school is hard at work. Yes, that’s right. I tapped into my long service leave for the first time and am feeling quite pleased with myself even though the preparation involved for such a fling can be involved and torturous.
Lesson plans, unit outlines, notes on students and requests for holiday homework to be handed in, all had to be uploaded, and when you have to think under pressure this process becomes even more stressful. By the time you have everything organised you are seriously questioning whether the break will be worth it. Oh, but it is!
Boarding a plane on the first day of term was extremely liberating but it made me feel as though on some level I was missing out. The first day back after holidays is always such a buzz of news, gossip and frantic photocopying that when you miss it, you can feel behind and out of the loop.
Colleagues who are friends text you with information and laments of excruciatingly long staff meetings and it can feel as though, even in your faraway tropical paradise, school is ever present. Sure, I could have refused to check my phone or respond to texts from school friends, but these people form a significant part of my life and I was genuinely interested in what was going on — or as much as one can be when indulging in a long lunch overlooking a beach.
I am, however, proud to say that I managed to shake the “Oh, it’s 9.30, my year 7s would be in English now” moments as my holiday progressed. I also refrained from checking emails or, God forbid, responding to them.
Yet when I returned it was amazing the number of emails that were sent with the knowledge that I was on leave but with the assumption that I would reply. Even though I appreciate that people wanted to let me know how my year 10 class did in English I was not going to respond to their questions about whether the kids were allowed to go to the computer room.
Next time, I think I will set up an Out Of Office reply to remind people that there will be no response. I say next time, because there will definitely be one. I think I have the taste for it now.
I used to think that it would take forever to accrue long service leave, yet here I am planning my next extended break and the wording of my Out Of Office email response. And don’t let people tell you that “you’ll forget about the holiday after an hour back at school” — I haven’t and I won’t. It’s the little inner glow that is going to get me through the term.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.