This is part 6/6 of a series on Surviving Summer School. To read the other parts check here.
Today’s the day: it’s under two weeks until the usual start of summer school season, and my final post in this series. In this post I’m talking about after it’s all over – you’ve completed your two or four or six or even eight weeks at summer school, and now you need to relearn how to survive in the real world.
Expect withdrawl symptoms.
If you thought starting at summer school was a culture shock, finishing summer school is even more so. For the last x number of weeks, you’ve lived in a bubble. A somewhat hectic, crazy bubble, where you’ve not had much free time, you’ve had a very rigid schedule, and you’ve been working (and living) with pretty much the same group of people 24/7. Leaving that is almost guaranteed to be strange.
Personally, I know that for the first few days after my summer school contract finishes, these thoughts will be at the forefront of my mind:
- Where are the children? Am I meant to be supervising them?
- See above, preceded by variants on ‘It’s suspiciously quiet…’
- What do you mean dinner isn’t at exactly 6pm every night?
- What do you mean I have to cook my own dinner? And then wash up after?
- Wait, I get to choose what food I want to eat?
- What exactly am I meant to be doing right now?
- Just wait til I tell (insert name of summer school colleague) about this!
All I can say with regards to any of this is a) it’s normal, b) give it time.
This one time, at summer school…
The double-edged sword of returning to the ‘real world’ post summer school is that not only are you rejoining your previous life, but you’re also suddenly spending all your time with PWWNASSs – People Who Were Not At Summer School. Understandably, the only known cure for this is both to keep in touch with your summer school colleagues, and to start (or restart) a teaching job in the autumn with a load of other recovering summer school teachers.
In the meantime, I must offer my condolences to all your friends, family, and loved ones. If you’ve ever seen the first few American Pie films you’ll know where I’m coming from with the title of this section: recovering summer school staff are destined to retell all of the hilarious summer school stories at any available opportunity. PWWNASSs will not get it. That’s ok.
Taking it back into the ‘real world’.
I’m well aware that this is a pretty light-hearted post, but I do still have some wisdom to impart. Hopefully, over your time at summer school, you’ve learnt something – now is your chance to put it into practice.
- During your time at summer school, chances are that you’ve come across something new. Be it a new game or activity, a type of lesson you taught that worked really well, or a coursebook or online resource that you hadn’t used previously – make a note of it, and use it again! If you’re returning to or starting a teaching job in the autumn, you’ve got a great excuse to try it out. If you’ll be returning to uni or looking for work, simply make a note of it that you’ll have available when you are next in front of a class.
- Never underestimate the amount that summer school can help you grow in confidence, or in your ability to be flexible and think on your feet. I can honestly say that if I’d never done summer school, I’d be a very different person to who I am now – and I can’t imagine any situation where that would be a positive thing.
- Don’t forget to keep in touch with people!* If you don’t keep in touch with your summer school colleagues, where else are you going to share those summer school memories? Perhaps I’m biased, as I met the love of my life when we were both teaching at summer school. But I’ve made some great friends that way as well!
- On a slightly less sentimental note, people can be a resource too. If you’re in the market for a job come the autumn (or even thinking about what you’re going to do the following year) summer school is a great opportunity to find out what working in different countries/for different schools is really like. Where else are you likely to find someone you know personally who’s been working for IH Madrid, or who has backpacked across Asia, or who has taught primary school students in Poland?
Looking forward to next year…
…in more ways than one, I hope! If you loved your summer school experience (and I really, really hope you did) then it’s never too soon to start thinking about next summer. The summer school recruitment season doesn’t seem to start properly until spring, but most schools tend to prefer returning staff to get in touch early. When I worked in the Head Office for a language school, we had one staff member email to let us know he’d like to come back the following year – on the day his contract finished! While perhaps that’s a little too keen, remember that summer schools do tend to work on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you really want to return to the same school you worked at this year, or you want to work with a particular colleague (and have made plans to return there together) it’s probably wise to get in touch early. Otherwise, there’s always the option of applying to work for a school in a different location, or even a different summer school company.
If by any chance your summer school experience wasn’t a good one, I’m truly sorry. I have to admit that just as not everyone is a talented artist or a skilled sportsman, summer school simply isn’t always for everyone. It can be a demanding job, an intense environment, and particularly if you’re dealing with problems of any kind back in the real world, it can all be a bit much. If this is you and you’re still struggling through, well done for making it as far as you have, and please talk to someone.
Do you have any other questions or things you’d like to know about summer school?
Please do get in touch – I’d be happy to help!
*Disclaimer: Pretty much every summer school has a policy about staff not keeping in touch with students via social media etc, and if they don’t, they should do. Keeping in touch with child or teen summer school students is never a good idea, and can result in you being disciplined or even fired. If one of your students asks if they can add you on Facebook etc, politely decline, let them know it’s nothing personal, and if they persist tell them that it’s the company rules and you are simply not allowed. I’ve never had a student argue with that.