Currently, teachers in Malta are probably the most envied employees on the island. Whilst some have already welcomed the summer holidays, those in state schools will be doing so this Thursday. What’s more? They will not be back before mid-September! That gives them around 10 weeks of holidays (not 3 months, as many tend to assume), which to many may seem a lot. In contrast, those in the profession justify such a stretch. Why?
Teaching is a highly stressful job, something only educators can fully understand. It’s a vocation which entails a lot of giving, and although the intermediary Christmas and Easter holidays may help, it’s a longer stretch of holidays that does the trick. Bringing one year to a close and making room for a brand new one helps stimulate educators and students alike in a way shorter spans of holidays simply can’t.
Summers in Malta are almost unbearable. Temperatures have already hit new highs for this year and with a heat wave coming to an end and another on its way every now and then, teaching in a school with no air conditioners in staffrooms or classrooms would result in a futile attempt and a horrid experience for all involved.
Everyone needs one every once in a while and given that teachers cannot opt for days off during the academic year they have to settle for a vacation during the Christmas or Easter recess, which usually comes at a hefty price. A 10-week stretch allows for better flexibility, even though planning a vacation during the summer season doesn’t come attached to a string of discounts and vouchers as do vacations during the quieter winter months.
This is not an excuse educators keep on bringing up whenever they are faced with the argument that their profession implies a lot of holidays. Teaching is not merely about delivering the 40-minutes-long lesson; it’s about preparing all the content and resources for a lesson apart from having to correct all the work handed in, inputting the marks into the system, marking exams papers, issuing assessments and attending departmental meetings.
As clichéd as it may sound, teachers, just like students, must be at the receiving end at times too. They are the ones responsible for whole generations, and the least they can do is to step up their efforts to ensure continuous professional development. Up-skilling and re-skilling should be the order of the day and what’s better than summer for them to attend courses, seminars and workshops?
Maybe this is something everyone wishes to have more of, and the fact that teachers leave work by 3pm, their need to spend more time with their families isn’t particularly highlighted. In reality, their job requires long, extra hours of work to be carried out from home, which robs them of time otherwise spent with their families, as during their year they spend their evenings and nights preparing lessons and marking work.
P.s: Have you watched this video featuring teachers from St Clare College, Pembroke Secondary School?
Teachers, enjoy the summer holidays. You deserve them!
© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Clifford Jo Zahra