11 February 2016

The Tyranny of Sick Days

My four-year-old must have thrown up fifteen times between 10:30PM and 3:30AM. Her daddy had her all cleaned up and her bed stripped by the time I came out of my Nyquil coma after the first round. You see, last week, her brother had brought a monster cold home from second grade and thought it was funny when he got snot on me while we were playing.

Now she's only thrown up twice since last night, but I can't hear and may or may not run out of Dayquil before I drip on a student's paper again.

You see, we can't leave tests for a substitute, and even if an IPA doesn't count as a test per se, who's going to do the conversation section with the students? Nothing like some good old-fashioned face-to-face with 2/3 of the class when you can only breathe through your mouth.

Now, my husband has maybe a few meetings a week tops that he can't miss and just has to power through. I have three 90-minute meetings every day, Monday-Thursday, and then non-stop meetings on Fridays when we have field trips and Academic Hour and clubs. So he got to sleep in and stay home after our baby girl's brief return to newborn sleeping habits--the day after a 12-hour work day for me. Whereas I? I have 1,001 decisions to make before I can even think about calling a sub when she has one more round of pukies at 5AM.

I suppose I could go back to the old IPA setup and have students converse with partners instead of with me. They could even call into Google Voice if need be, since iPads and Chromebooks are only to be used under the direct supervision of bona fide school faculty. I mean, they might do all right that way. But if the 1/3 that conversed with me the day before my surrender to the viral infestation ends up performing better on that "test" because they had me to help--or the 2/3 without does better because I wasn't there to make them nervous or cough on them--then I have another week's worth of make-ups to sort out.

Still, I suppose it's better than trying to get them to talk about a video they watched yesterday next Monday--or Tuesday, if the weather proves as ominous as students and weathermen would have us believe. I mean, I could build in some re-watch time for that 2/3, but then what do I do with the other 1/3?

And don't get me started on the portfolios that would have to be pushed back into grading crunch time.

A homework day is also a no-go with mobile devices and this week's work being all pinning, blogging, and vibbing. They can't very well hop on WeSpeke either. Backed myself into a 21st century corner, didn't I?

There is that completely innocuous vocab/grammar/writing tic-tac-toe board I've had in the emergency file the last two years, but thinking of what losing this weekend to grade would do down the line...I'm sicker thinking about it.

Then I flash back to Tuesday afternoon when I reminded my math colleague having fever chills not to push her body too far by staying and grading late. "You'll just stay sick--or get sicker."

Then my English and science colleagues storm my room.

"You're not thinking about what's important," they say, all but pushing me out the door.

But the conversations! The weather! The grading!

"We'll split up planning and watch them put the iPads and Chromebooks back," they say. "We don't want your germs anyway."

"Go.  Home."

Sick days can be even  more oppressive than sickness for teachers. But with a solid support system, they can't keep you down. Stomach bugs? Colds? The flu? Those can keep you down. Don't give what power you have left to Sick Days.

If you don't have a team who has your back when it comes to the bacterial battlefield, you need to find one. Maybe it's a family member who's not afraid of a little four-year-old vomit. It might be some friends who can cover in those rare instances when your immune system does not come through for you. It might be a solid sub--or set of subs--who knows how your class works and how to take care of business (even if they're not exactly fluent in your language). Heck, it might be a good Pinterest board of quick printouts and students who hate to see you hurting.

With the right army on your side, you can fight back against the tyranny of Sick Days.

Just do your fighting in your pajamas.

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