Term Times – The Vortex

Term Times are strange times. They are a time when educators enter a vortex for 9 to 11 weeks before crawling out and back into reality.

Educators flip flop between reality and vortex life in this time but mostly their brains are vortexed locked.

The reason for 9 to 11 weeks is unknown to me. Possibly unknown to anyone. It doesn’t matter though, as anything over 6 weeks becomes painful to endure and beyond 8 weeks there is this type of ‘educator survival mode’ that keeps the term rolling along.


I’m not sure that people other than educators know what it is like once the vortex has opened and the suction begun.

That’s why I am writing. I am writing to enlighten those who remain ‘vortex experience’ virgins.

I can of course only write from my own perceptions and as I have entered and crawled out many, many times, I know about this vortex stuff.

Educators enter the 9 to 11 week experience usually with hair cuts (not me…)



Days are never the same. There are timetables to assist with most things but usually it is the clientèle who guarantee the lack of sameness and replace it with moments of Oh Jaysus. These moments vary in quantity, frequency and strength. They are unpredictable.

2:45pm is often an Oh Jaysus moment. Usually on a Wednesday, but it could be on any day. The hush over the admin area as staff wait for the 2:45pm moment to pass without incident, is deafening.

Oh Jaysus moments come in many forms. A chair thrown through a window (student didn’t want to help pack up…) or a marauding parent (does not want to believe that his/her child had been in trouble) or it could be a broken bone or a child who has failed to return to class following getting their bag from the bag rack, or a bus late back from an excursion. It could be a issue with street parking or someone looking at someone else the ‘wrong’ way.

The 2:45pm disasters are the ones where the emergency services are involved. We phone them, they give us a number, they come and then they go. When they’ve gone we turn on the computer to log it all so the incident can be recorded in triplicate and sent somewhere via airwaves. Whilst you do this the computer program you require will probably stop working four or five times. You then get to tell the cleaners they can go home and that you will lock up. You work until about 8pm and get home totally stuffed at 8:30ish.

You will find educators arriving at any time from 7am.

Not me though.

I arrive at 8:10am on a day with a tail wind.

Educator sing a breezy greeting as they spring through the admin area, check their pigeon holes, make a coffee and trot to class.

Not me though.

I don’t function at this time. I just arrive. Any more than arriving is expecting too much.

The morning  music plays to signify class time and the educators greet their students with happy smiles and small talk.


Not me though.

I am now almost able to walk to the bench in the staff room to make my coffee.


The day begins. I spend time warming up to speak.

Speaking to me and getting a reply is out of the question and dangerous to consider, until around 10 am.

By 10am I can contribute but not happily.

In the classrooms things are happy. I did that once, so I don’t feel bad that it’s a bit tricky these days. Happy mornings are for the insane and the ridiculous.


By 11am on Tuesdays to Fridays I am fine. I don’t manage on Mondays at all.

From 11am until 3pm I can cope with anything that is thrown my way. (Excluding things thrown my way on my behaviour days.)

Behaviour days are worse than the 2:45pm Oh Jaysus days. Behaviour days require speed and agility. Neither of which I do with any skill. On top of that, behaviour days also require a calmness that pre-11am isn’t available and post 10 behaviours has been used up entirely.

By 3pm on any day, the sound of the music telling the kids to go home and letting the parents know they can start shouting, ‘Hurry up and get your bag!’ is simply joy to my ears and I would imagine to the ears of all educators.


Usually after the kids have gone home there are meetings of one sort or another. Meetings for me happen on and off all day. For the classroom educators, they have meetings at least twice a week. So for them it is pack the classroom up and prepare for the next day, or pack the classroom up and head to a meeting until around 4:45 – 5pm.

By 5:01pm there is a queue of cars longer than the Christmas parking queues in any shopping centre car park. Educators leaving the day behind with music blaring and windows down.

I wander to the admin area to catch up with the boss and anyone else who is still there. It’s time for a laugh. I always intend to stop for a very short moment but that short moment is extended due to the need to laugh.

That’s not saying the day itself doesn’t bring laughs. It always does. Not on Mondays but on the other days. Even on behaviour days, you can laugh.

Things I remember laughing at include being sent a child who has a diagnosis of global delay to ask me something. By the time the child arrived the memory of what was to be asked was gone but the smile from the child was huge. Typing those two sentences made me wonder why kids don’t get a diagnosis of ‘Happy?’  How groovy would it be to be diagnosed as ‘Happy,’ and to be verified and come with hours!!

I remember having a conversation with a child who had called his teacher an a*se but insisted he had called him an ass, meaning donkey. He then sidetracked me into talking about cocks as in cockerels and the whole thing ended up a complete mess.

I remember needing to find a child at home time but I had so many kids in my office I didn’t know how I was going to be able to leave and mount a search. I made a decision to scatter the naughty office bound kids to find the child too. Only two remained in the office. One hiding under a chair and the other didn’t have shoes on. I prayed they would just be still and not cause an Oh Jaysus 2:45pm moment. We found the kid under a bush about 3 metres away and after having scoured the entire grounds.

I remember it raining and the swale filling with water and a complex child with autism jumping into the water and throwing pebbles at everyone. When he was finished he walked back to class with his pants near his knees weighted down by the water. Watching his bottom being exposed more and more from the top of his wet trousers as he tried to carry himself with dignity, was very funny.

I remember being ‘talked at’ by a parent down the phone who called me, ‘mate,’ for 45 minutes and would not let me say a word as he attempted to tell me where we had gone wrong in the education system. I got a heap of work done with the phone on speaker while he prattled on and I shouted, ‘Yep, Ok and Ah Ha,’ periodically.

I remember telling a child who had sat herself in the middle of the road and refused to budge that I hoped she had a water bottle in her bag as it was going to be 42 degrees and I for one, was hot enough. Then I stormed off. I knew she would follow and once she was in the gate and had sat down again, I laughed to myself. Before that I said a few silent prayers.

I remember a little guy with Downs Syndrome who made me laugh with his endearing ways and his deep, ‘Oh no no no no no…’ when he saw mirrors.

So many things can make educators laugh between week 1 and 9 or 11. It’s the laughing moments that keep us going. One laugh knocks the hell out of ten Oh Jaysus moments.

Term time is busy, hard, ever-changing, rewarding, frustrating, exhausting, celebratory, upsetting, fun, not fun, unpredictable and rewarding, but never ever dull.

Term times come and term times go. Memory making experiences stay (no matter how much you choose to drink…)

Happy Post Vortex 1 Educators!