This is a time of year when a lot of those working in education feel close to burnout. It’s hard to explain this to anyone not working in the field, as is probably true of most jobs, but at the end of the academic year it feels as though you are carrying the whole weight on your shoulders of your learners, their fears, hopes and dreams, what they have or have not learned and what they should or should not do next.
This is why we need a break, and it is not simply a matter of indulgence but a real necessity if we want to rediscover our enthusiasm, sanity and health. In my case I was very worked up, in the middle of organising a demanding exam session for approximately 2 thousand students in my university, and quite frankly we could have done with more support. (There were only two of us in charge of this). It becomes hard to see beyond the next list that needs to be drawn up or the next student who has a problem to solve, when you are doing this and the sight of an optimistic publisher’s representative, trying to interest you in new coursebooks just tends to make the knot of anxiety in your stomache tighten all the more, until you run gasping to the nearest café to drown your sorrows in
beer or, in my case, prosecco.
So, this, coupled with the heat and excessive humidity the North of Italy is currently being cursed with, explains the general exodus to pastures if not green at least a long way from the university, that occurs at the end of June.
I decided I had to get away to the sea. My whole being was longing to be by the water, watching the changing colours of the sea and just letting my whirling thoughts and fears calm down. Due, however, largely to the unwelcome attentions of the tax office I was short of money and this means you need to get creative! So, I went to Albania, where I discovered a whole new world (More about this later.) After one or two days in a new place my thoughts had magically stopped thinking about lists and taxes ( I had even managed to stop dreaming about ringing telephones) and I “found myself” (I’m never sure if I can really say this in English, but I definitely can in Italian and it describes the sensation so well.) I was just me, sitting in front of the water, relaxing, not needing to feel inadequate, stressed or afraid, and I began to wonder why I was always afraid at the university when I know that I generally try to do my best and I can’t do more than that, can I?
There’s nothing like going somewhere new to rediscover what you are really interested in so soon my thoughts turned again to teaching and language. I love to make journeys into stories and I am now going to use the photos, videos and reflections from this journey to make a storytelling lesson with Prezi. I particularly like this sight because of its zooming function so that you can guide your viewers to the things you would like them to concentrate on, even though they don’t have to do it like that f they don’y want to. I’m not going to write any more about this exciting project just yet, until I’ve tried it out and developed exactly what I want to do. Then I’ll let you all know…
In any case, the moral of this story I think is that when you are surrounded by stress, negativity etc. etc. the best thing to do is to stop and take a break.