Haha. Not really surprised about that Carole. :p
I hadn't thought about Snape being at Spinners End
I agree with this as well, but I think it's more because he just started teachers a few years after leaving the school. He would have had to be strict and harsh to teach the 'dunderheads' that were once classmates and probably saw the scene from SWM.
I always got the impression that Snape hated teaching
True, Remus did come to Hogwarts on the train, but I think he was just given the role like the week before term started. And, as DADA teacher, he was more hands on then text book Umbridge. He wouldn't have worried too much with planning everything from the books and he probably had little responsibility other than his classes to worry about.
I think also they could come to the school early, but that's not always the case - because Remus actually came on the train along with all the students, so I think it's really up to the indivdual personalities.
But for the other teachers, like Flitwick, Sprout, McGonagall, and Snape, it wouldn't be unnormal for them to come in a few weeks early. As HoH, each would have more responsibilities than any other staff member, other than Dumbledore. They would have to plan their lesson, which no matter how hard a teacher tries it will never happen to just fall into place. They would end up changing something in the lesson plans and going with the flow. Also, as a HoH, they would have to pick, or so I assume, a male and female Prefect, as well as give their input to the Headmaster of who should be Head Boy and Head Girl.
I believe it was said that Hagrid stayed after being expelled. He was an orphan at that time. His mom left him and his father, and his father had died when he was twelve. But, he was only allowed to stay because he was given a chance to work with kettleburn, I think. Correct me if I'm wrong, please.
I would assume though, that Hagrid was allowed to stay on after he was expelled
If you think about it, Snape's home life could be seen as considerably worst than Harry or Tom's. He had an abusive father, a mother who was the victim most of the time from what we can tell with one of Snape's memories, and he was abused at times as well. He was told to go home though. Harry and Tom were orphans, Tom had no where to go but back to the orphanage, possibly, and Harry had three relatives who didn't give a crap about him, but he wasn't abused the same was Snape was.
hopefully that would extend to other students as well whose home situations were even more unhealthy than Harry's or Tom's
Ok, this is a random note, but Carole, you always have a plot bunny (I would usually say badger, but it's Easter) in your head. :P
Hmmm, now have a teeny tiny plot bunny about Septima Vector on maternity leave for some reason... (shoos bunny away)
While I agree with everyone who said that they probably have a choice, don't forget that it would depend on the holiday. The Christmas holiday is different than the Summer holiday. Christmas, the staff would most likely go home for a week or so to spend Christmas and New Years with their family, considering if they have family to visit. The rest of the staff would stay at the school since the holiday is only a few weeks long. The Summer holiday is completely different. It's around two months long. That's a pretty lengthy time to stay at the school with or without family. They wouldn't be obliged to start planning for the term in Summer as soon as in Winter when the students come back from Christmas break.
Everyone seems surprised that Trelawney turns up - so obviously she usually stays in her tower on Christmas Eve. Probably her connection to the rest of the staff isn't strong enough, but I am sure that she actually does live at Hogwarts.
So if any of the other teachers a) don't have a strong connection to the castle/the staff, b) have family or c) don't have any tasks at school (eg something Dumbledore told them to do; "Watch out for ... during the holidays")
Ok. So this is a really long post. Probably the longest I've ever done, but there were just a few things that I thought about while reading what everyone said. *points to above quotes and responses*
So, I'm gonna go before the rotten tomatoes come after me... :D