We’ve all had the uncontrollable come true: an emerging scratchy throat or pulsing headache, waking up with body aches or an urgent emergency bathroom trip. We’ve all had the choice…to go in and face the day or to create sub plans and try to forget about what disasters may or may not occur when we’re not the ones standing by the door to greet our little cherubs in the morning.
Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the midst of tossing and turning not sure of what to do, not sure that they will survive without my guidance, not sure if I feel like making those plans because they probably won’t get to them anyway, not sure if I want to come back to the chaos one day away from school is sure to present me with….
Now, I’m not saying that to hurt anyone’s feelings and I’m certainly not saying we’re not that important overall. It’s just we’re not that important if we’re not actually able to be there fully in all of our wellness. We’re not doing them any favors and certainly not doing any favors for ourselves to play the martyr and go in. When I was younger, I didn’t really understand that it’s actually pretty selfish to come to work sick.
Now, I know everyone’s administrators look at absences differently and I’m certainly differentiating between the slight headache and a fever of a 102. But going to work sick increases the likelihood of coworkers getting sick and infecting the very students you are trying to help. Not to mention, you pulling it together for the entire day versus you getting some much needed rest and recuperation could result in prolonging your sickness.
Which is a better scenario for your students? You running at 50% for three days OR being absent for one, coming back to being at 75% and then resuming to 100%? It seems to me that our students would actually benefit from our taking some time to recover.
We want to be as present, healthy, accountable and well as possible for our students. This may mean that when we aren’t, we need to recognize this and care for ourselves (or if possible enlist a good caretaker at home!). I used to run through the guilt and shame voices in my head, “They’re not going to believe me….I looked fine today….I hope I still look a little under the weather tomorrow…” On and on, this voice would make me question if I had a right to take a day when I felt terrible.
Here’s one more thing that I’ve learned…
So, they will probably either not notice that you are even absent or just be happy that you are taking care of yourself and wish you well when you come back. We put the most guilt on ourselves. So here’s the bottom line: take care of you first, your colleagues will thank you for thinking of them and not infecting them and your students will thank you too. Why you might ask? Well because they get a substitute for a day…what’s more fun than that once in awhile?
Oh, here’s one more thing…most of the time students think they have more fun when a substitute is in but usually they are always relieved when we come back. You don’t get compliments like that when you decide to tough it out and teach when you’re on death’s door! So do yourself a favor, take that day if you need it, try to do it without guilt, and come back better than ever, ready to teach well!
If you’re feeling inspired and want to share, please jump over to the We are Teaching Well Facebook Group to share how you handle sick days throughout your school year.