Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Teacher Thoughts: What it's Like to Be a Sick Teacher

I came across a pin on Pinterest the other day that really hits the nail on the head.  The pin linked to a blog post about teachers being sick.  Needless to say, I was inspired and decided to share my own thoughts on this matter here on Teacher Thoughts.

First of all, to clarify for any non-teachers here, teachers are required to write lesson plans about what you will be teaching for each class each day of the week.  Some teachers write very lengthy plans and others are able to communicate what they will be teaching in a condensed manner.  (I am a condensed manner teacher).  BUT when a sub is coming to my classroom, I want to be as detailed as possible.

My first problem is that I am a control freak.  I like things to be done the way I want them done and not how a substitute teacher thinks I want them done.  So I write step-by-step plans to describe to the substitute not only what he/she should be doing but what the students will be doing, as well.

I think this should go without saying, but this takes a lot of time.

The second issue comes up when you have a lesson (or lessons) planned that only you can teach.  I'm not saying that substitutes are not competent educators (although, some are not).  What I am saying is that there are lessons that I just can't explain to someone else.  For example, I have been attending some professional development conferences recently, and I'm learning new methods for teaching in reading and writing.  I am just trying out some of these things, and I don't have the time required to try to type up a plan explaining it to someone else when I attended a 6 hour conference to learn it myself.

Last year, my principal decided to have us all make up a folder with emergency sub plans to be kept in our mailboxes in the office.  Basically, this is for times when you need to miss work and were not planning to.  Almost every absence I have is a planned one.  My absences are almost always for professional development.  I rarely need/use sick days....mostly for the reasons I've already stated.  These plans are basically only to be used in the event that your sub can't figure out what to do, OR that you would prefer the sub follows those plans instead of trying to follow yours.

Most of the time, if I end up calling off sick and wasn't planning on it (like in October when I woke up and couldn't talk.....), I grab my phone, mentally recall my plans, and email detailed instructions to one of my fellow sixth grade teachers to print out and give to the sub.

Truthfully, this is also about leaving your "kids" in the hands of someone that you probably don't know!  I don't like not knowing what will happen in my classroom while I'm gone, but sometimes, it's just that hard to get out of bed and go.  My school has a severe substitute shortage, and you never know if you'll actually get a sub to fill your absence.

And that, my friends, will be in the next installment of Teacher Thoughts....sub problems!


Kristin said...

So much to say!
We have a sub shortage here too and my mom mentioned that she heard/read that there aren't nearly as many people becoming teachers these days and that might be why.
I have a day out next week and I started writing my plans last week. Also, I schedule any planned appointments for either morning or afternoon because it's easier to plan for a specific half of the day. Usually the half with my prep period because that's less to plan for :/
When Scout had surgery in October, I was writing plans from memory at midnight and sending them to my teammate, via text, from the animal hospital.
My principals have always made me have the emergency sub folders. Just a pile o' busywork.

Cara (Kindly Unspoken) said...

Wow, as a non-teacher this is eye opening. But I can definitely relate in the aspect that I rarely call in because no one else in my office knows how to do my job, nor can I easily explain it to them. Thanks for all you do!

Sarah Alway said...

My mom talks about this all.the.time. Basically she says it's not even worth calling in sick, because of the sub plans and the kids being off schedule and a total disaster when she returns. So I totally get it!

Casey C said...

Last year (after I had Grace) I made a sub lesson plan for each unit I teach. Actually, they are all lessons I have taught in the past but no longer teach for whatever reason. All the print/materials is in a folder with each units name on the top and they are all in a drawer labeled "sub." If I have to be out in an emergency, I have a few teacher friends that I can text in the morning, and they pull out my emergency lesson for the day. I know that probably wouldn't work for a self contained room, but it was a game changer for me :)

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