If there was a contest for the country with the most public holidays, I'm sure Cambodia would be right up there at the top of the list.
Since school started on 3rd September, we have had a total of 7 public holidays and 1 teacher work day when we did parent-teacher conferences. So that means that in the first 11 weeks of the school year, we have had 7 five day weeks (i.e. no public holidays). We've had two 4-day weeks, and two 2-day weeks.
This week was supposed to be the 8th five day week, but alas, ASEAN has come to Phnom Penh, and schools are closed. We were officially notified on Friday that we would have to close on Monday and Tuesday. So that makes a 3-day week this week. Next week is a 2-day week (Monday & Friday with holidays Tuesday to Thursday), then a five day week, a four day week, and one last five day week to bring us up to the Christmas break. Hmmm.
Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the holidays. They help me stay sane, giving valuable catch up time, BUT they also make it hard to maintain momentum with my students. Have a look at this.
Week 1 5 days
Week 2 5 days
Week 3 5 days
Week 4 4 days (I was ready for that long weekend) (Constitution Day)
Week 5 5 days
Week 6 5 days
Week 7 2 days (The 5-day break was good) (Pchum Ben)
Week 8 5 days
Week 9 2 teaching days, plus 1 day parent-teacher conferences (Coronation Day & King Father's Birthday)
Week 10 4 days (Independence Day)
Week 11 5 days
Week 12 5 days (only now it's 3 days)
Week 13 2 days (Water Festival)
Week 14 5 days (Hooray)
Week 15 4 days (big concert that weekend, so don't mind that Monday is a holiday - International Human Rights Day)
Week 16 5 days
CHRISTMAS / WINTER BREAK (2 weeks)
We haven't got the calendar for 2013 yet, but I'm fairly sure the holidays are a little more spaced out after Christmas, and we should be able to get some solid teaching happening. Life is interesting.
It's interesting, because this means we have a 16 week term! It would be way too long if it weren't for all those sneaky little holidays. So, what should I do? Well, I think that what I do is actually OK. I enjoy the holidays when they come, and do my best to keep some continuity happening in the classroom despite the interruptions. Keeping routines going helps kids, so when I can do that I do.
And as for ASEAN, well, I wonder what Aussie parents would say about school being closed for two days with only one weekend of notification. I wouldn't like to be a teacher there in that situation. Here, it's just part of life, and you do what you have to do. Either the kids will go to work with Mum & Dad, or Mum and/or Dad may just have to stay home too. Life is different here.
What about me? Do I get two extra days holidays. No, although I do get two shorter days (9am - 2pm instead of 7am -3pm). We need to get working on WASC, and hopefully I can get some grading caught up and some extra planning done.
As for those lessons I had planned for Monday and Tuesday .... Well, that will teach me to try and plan two weeks ahead. Some can be shuffled to Wednesday, and some will just have to wait until I return from ICEC in Chiang Mai after Water Festival. Life's like that.