Do not judge others because they have a different working pattern to you.

I’ve seen a lot of talk on Twitter recently relating to when teachers work – many of these Tweets are very opinionated, some even, in my opinion, borderline rude. In essence, the debate here is whether teachers should be encouraged to work during their holidays, or encouraged to wholly take a break and ignore even a sniff of work for the entirely of their school break.

But, as with most edu-debates, things are simply not as black and white as they may seem.

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“Oh wow, you’re on holiday again?” “You get HOW much time off??!!” “You must be on holiday more than you work!!!” We’ve all had it, we’ve all been there. And ultimately, every teacher knows that it’s not true. Whether you’re spending 12 hours at school each day, working from home before or after, during weekends or working during holidays, the workload of a teacher is much more than just 8-3.

And that’s just the point – teachers all have an unbelievably large workload – we ALWAYS have too much to do. How you choose to cope with that workload is entirely your own choice.

Many of my colleagues have children at home – they can’t physically work during the evenings, so instead choose to get to school at 5.30am and work in the morning.

Some colleagues aren’t morning people, instead choosing to work into their evenings; they might go to the gym on their way home, pick up some dinner and be back by 8.30pm.

But me? Although I’m a fairly sprightly morning bird, and tend to get to school for 7am, my brain just doesn’t function past 4pm. Whether I’m in a meeting, or trying to plan for the next day, I just can’t do it. I’ll rarely be found in school past 3.30pm; I like to go home, and spend the entirety of my late-afternoon and evening away from work. I might go home and not move from the sofa all evening, I might go for a run, I might go and help my partner at his business for a few hours – I might even go home and spend 4 hours cooking a lovely mid-week feast, or do some housework (although the latter much less likely!) It depends. And unless it’s the odd A-Level essay here and there, I never work weekends either.

Instead, I choose to work through my holidays, whether it be from home or school, in order to ‘bulk plan’ my lessons for the whole of the half term. In some circumstances, I’ve worked through my summer holiday, to ‘bulk plan’ lessons for the whole year. This then allows me to differentiate these lessons easily and efficiently the morning before I teach them.

For example, this half term (May) I was in Norway Friday-Tuesday. The break was fabulous, but I’m happy to come home and work the Wednesday-Friday.

Whenever people ask (I tend not to offer fellow teachers my workload rhythm, for this exact reason), they are always concerned that I work too hard. That I never get a break. That my lifestyle is unsustainable.

My response is this – this is how I choose to spend my time. I’m very lucky to work at a school that appreciates the work I put in, regardless of when this work takes place. I’ve found a work rhythm that works for me, and I’m very happy with it. Of course I get breaks – I escape London most weekends to walk in the countryside or spend time with friends, I’m forever searching AirBnB for my next adventure. And for my efforts over the past few years, I have built up a bank of refined resources that I can be proud of. The time I spend planning is therefore decreasing.

So, my hard work has finally started paying off – regardless of when I did it.

Do not judge others because they have a different working pattern to you.

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