Blog: Rest and Relaxation

“Rest and self-care are so important.

When you take time to replenish your spirit,

it allows you to serve others from the overflow.

You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

– Eleanor Brown

How often do staff at any level of our profession enjoy an interlude from their roles in school? We often believe we have done so during the weekend or evening, until we see an offer in the local newspaper for offcuts of material, see some nearly new books in the local hospice shop that would suit your library corner, see some very inexpensive Brio track that will enhance your classroom, or notice some new resources for your GCSE history curriculum.  

Let’s begin with the word ‘rest’, which has various connotations. The first synonyms associated with ‘rest’ are relaxation, leisure and calm. The second connotation has synonyms around break, interval and respite, with the final one around support, prop and base. It’s getting the balance right that is the issue for so many of us.

We shall start in reverse order with associations around the connotation of ‘support’. The teaching profession at every level is constantly focussed on supporting pupils, colleagues, families and the wider community. In so many aspects and outcomes from schools are the key prop for the community it serves, with the people in the building often its base and foundation.  

My focus for the second connotation will be around the word ‘respite’. Over 95% of children in the large majority of our schools attend school every day without fail, which means that we have the opportunity to develop the mind, body and spirit of pupils in so many different ways, many of which have nothing to do with the lesson plan. 

From the moment we enter the building, teachers and leaders have expectations from the people they meet face-to-face every day. It is without doubt a privilege that involves high levels of constant personal and professional commitment and physical effort. The word ‘respite’ becomes very relevant and must be added to our two key ‘R’ words in our title, giving us our own 3 Rs.

A significant proportion of the population believe that somewhere in the United Kingdom during the 4 or 5 of weeks of this Summer holiday, teachers are enjoying a well-earned time of rest and relaxation. Do teachers’ holidays really coincide with the weeks when pupils are not in school? How much of the time do significant percentages of our profession spend in school or thinking about school during their holiday? Responsibilities or tasks such as finishing off records at the end of the school year, supporting Summer school activities, preparing for new pupils or a new curriculum from September? How many teachers of Year 11 and 13 pupils will spend time supporting students as they receive their GCSE and A-level results this month? KCSIE gives local authorities and external agencies clear responsibilities with regard to safeguarding our children during school holidays, but how many leaders and DSLs will be contacted during this Summer holiday? How many DSLs and teachers, even if not contacted, will be thinking about these most vulnerable of their pupils?

We all know that the majority of our profession need to appreciate how to rest and relax. Perhaps we can enable even a few of us to improve their understanding of how to better replenish our cup, during the Summer of 2022. Let’s focus once more on our new 3 R words with support from Chambers’ thesaurus. Both our title words feature very highly, when researched separately for each definition. This initially made me review the title for this month’s topic but after reflection the link between them and the Eleanor Brown quote, gave me increased motivation.  

In conclusion we come specifically to our second key word – ‘relaxation’ – where the link is clearly seen in the synonyms around ‘relaxation’ itself (in the same thesaurus), such as recreation, refreshment and unwinding. We need to make the effort to gain a real understanding around our own methods or practices around rest, relaxation and respite, to ensure they become a natural element of our personal and professional lives, if we are to begin the new year as a full ‘vessel’. Our vessel needs regular opportunities to overflow, allowing us to enjoy our work and play. It’s getting the balance right that is the issue for so many of us. Perhaps we can develop this new set of the “3 Rs” for ourselves?

There are many sources to support our three words and more widely our well-being, so rather than appear to be any authority on the words of our title, I would like to offer this article from from Sasha Austin Seade:

Her article outlines just some ideas and suggestions that can help the whole year round, as well as this summer. Her question – ‘When was the last time you gave yourself a metaphorical high five?’ –is also a superb starter for us, as is her answer to it. Perhaps metaphorical ‘high fives’ is where each of us can start?  

John Croghan M.Ed. BA. Cert.Ed.

If you would like to speak to John please email john.croghan@evaluate-ed.com.

Content Development and Monitoring

John Croghan M.Ed. BA. CertEd. has over 50 years of experience in education, as a teacher, leading learning in classrooms from EYFS to Y11, as well as a leader and primary headteacher.  He enjoyed his role supporting Every Child Matters in schools and has advised and supported schools across the West Midlands, as well as leading OFSTED inspections.   He is currently a school consultant, mentor, and governor. 

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