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Teachers: do they ever stop working?

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As a member support officer at The Key, I talk to schools on a daily basis. As a boyfriend at home, I talk about schools on a daily basis.

Don’t get me wrong, living with a teacher has its perks. The holidays are OK, and occasionally you get to play with glove puppets. But the one thing teachers never do is switch off.

My girlfriend and I spent a week away during the Easter break. Although I’m a city boy at heart, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the chaos, congestion and train cancellations that blight Londoners’ existence. There were no particular requirements about the destination – just somewhere ‘not busy’. The Welsh countryside was deemed adequate for some well-needed R&R.

The views from our cottage across The Dee Valley were easy on the eye. Strangers actually smiled and said hello – an act met with suspicion on the Tube. Even the persistent rainfall was bearable (just). Nevertheless, this quiet corner of the North Wales/English border had its own challenges.

Pronouncing the names of the local villages was difficult. Even more so was trying to get in and out of the cottage’s hill-top driveway – a feat that required precision and nerve. However, the biggest obstacle I faced was keeping my other half away from her work emails.

Thankfully, the lack of Wi-Fi put paid to this (even though it also meant I wasn’t able to check on the football scores – swings and roundabouts, I guess). I did my best to avoid other work-related activities, but as the saying goes: you can take the teacher out of school, but you can’t take the school out of the teacher. So, I had the pleasure of visiting Wrexham Waterstone’s, Chester WHSmith, and the Oswestry branch of The Works in search of a book for my girlfriend’s classroom. We also bought a plastic sword from the gift shop at Chirk Castle (the theme for next term is fairy tales), collected wood for her role play area, and commented on how small the local schools were.

I often tell my girlfriend to stop thinking about work, but it falls on deaf ears most of the time. She may not always be at school in body, but she is always there in mind. A common misconception non-teachers have about the profession is that teaching is a 9am – 3pm job. We all know that’s way off the mark.

In another post on Key insights, Ed's colleague Jenny Moore reflects on the particular challenges faced by women in teachingYou'll also find strategies for improving staff wellbeing and work-life balance over on The Key for School Leaders (login required).

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