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Be your best…take a rest!

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I saw this quote on a LinkedIn post recently  and with half term rapidly approaching and my recent involvement with an Inspection and SATs, I thought…absolutely I will. That night over dinner, I was speaking to my husband and mentioned this quote and my intended forthcoming action to rest – his response was belly laughter!

I guess after being together for 30 years he knows me perhaps better than I know myself so, I paused, thought about this and, what do you know, he is right!

For the past 27 years as a teacher, Headteacher, Trust Leader and now Consultant I have never really taken a break from what I consider to be my vocation and here are just a few examples of my non-rest (as it were):

As a Geography teacher our holidays were a wealth of resource inspiration for me. I loved picking up maps (often free) and authentic resources I could use in the classroom. Boarding cards for children and young people I taught in deprived areas were a keeper not to mention the sombreros and local craft products that adorned my classroom displays from around the globe.

As a Headteacher, without the limitations of a subject, the opportunities to be school focussed were endless when I was away from school. I remember a particularly lucrative call into a local retailer where I overheard him talking about the fact they had received one too many pre-lit 10ft Christmas Trees and were wondering what to do with the spare – well the opportunity was too good to miss. I arranged for our premises team to collect the ‘spare’ tree the following day and my primary school used the tree for many years - all at my favourite price!

And even now as an Independent Consultant I am still at it…thinking all the time about the Trusts, schools, children and young people I am associated with. Recently, I was at my local Garden Centre (gardening has become my new hobby) and they had a stand that said ‘end of line, free’ on insulated children’s packed lunch boxes. In I swooped and bagged a collection of boxes which one of my Trusts can use in whichever way they see fit.

What I have realised over these years in education and talking to other professionals is that being a teacher (which fundamentally I am) is who I am.  I cannot take a rest from that and neither can many of the teachers and sector leaders I know. Though it is not what defines me (I am my own self - a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend),  it is a very definite part of who I am which enables me to be those other things in the best way I can be.

I do take a rest. I turn my emails off from my phone when I go on holiday, requiring a much more proactive decision to open them and I put an out of office on my emails (usually!) before I go away letting people know it is unlikely I will respond, but I do not take a break and I have realised over the years that’s OK.

Recently, I was talking to a Headteacher and preaching that after a difficult few weeks he should take the time off with his partner and enjoy a complete rest to which he replied “but if I spend 10 minutes everyday having a quick flick through my emails and putting holding responses in, I will be much more rested than I would if I didn’t look at new messages that were coming in” to which I replied “OK in that case, rest in the best way that you can for you, so you can be your best self when we return” and there is the trick!

And by the way, can anyone remember a life before email! Perhaps that is another blog for the future!

Happy half term - however you are resting.

Sarah Young - Young+

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