Why do I always have the mistaken belief that term 4 is an easy term? I spend most of term 3 feeling as though a sense of relief is about to follow and that I am almost through the school year. It is as though all previous memories of term 4 have been wiped from my memory and all that remains is the image of supervising a small group of children making Christmas decorations whilst munching on truffles that we made earlier. Delusional.
Term 4, on many levels, could be considered the most stressful of all the terms. There are classes working towards exams and those exams seem to pounce upon us before anyone is ready. There are reports to write (never a process to be looked forward to), end-of-year programs looming, year 12 Muck-Up Day (which is not allowed to be called Muck-Up Day) and the planning for the following school year. It is the term that seems to happen in constant fast-forward — and with double the workload.
The other challenging factor of term 4 is that, once the warmer weather starts and so does daylight saving, students enter a summer frame of mind. They know the long holidays are just around the corner and signal it by being restless in class, louder than usual and even more easily distracted.
“Miss, how many sprinklers are there on the oval?”
“Is it true that the water coming out of the sprinklers is straight from the school toilets?”
“Can we leave class early to run through the sprinklers?”
“Are you serious? I’m not running through toilet water. But can we still leave class early so we can get to our lockers before everybody else?”
“Come on, Miss.”
“Just this once.”
“Miss, I think the bell just went.”
“I swear it did, Miss.”
“Can we go out there and just check?”
Much of term 4 also involves feeling as if you are living in two headspaces — your 2014 headspace and your 2015 headspace. This can be confusing as, if you are anything like me, once you know the plan for the following year, you just want to get started on it but then become overly sentimental about your current classes and want to keep working with them. The thought of change can seem enticing or filled with dread depending on the kind of day you are having.
Morning teas reign in the final term. Perhaps as an enticement to keep going, perhaps because the morning tea budget needs to be used up or perhaps because no one wants to break a commitment to healthy eating alone. Whatever the reason, the number of gatherings in the staff room increase out of sight and those who are free in the period after recess benefit in particular, remaining close to the platters and continuing to consume dip and biscuits whilst photocopying worksheets for their next class. The end is in sight.
Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian.