Saturday, February 20, 2016

Call the sub! I'm staying home!

This past week was exhausting. Four out of the seven of us were sick with flu like symptoms creating a home environment that can best be described as survivalist. There was plenty of laundry done, and insane amounts of ginger ale and toast consumed while we did our best to get the house feeling better.

And I get to use the pronoun WE, because I was there helping each and every minute. I ended up taking 3 sick days to be home to help with the all that went into taking care of my sick family. So, with Monday's holiday and my 3 sick days, I had a 1 day work week!...errr.

When I first started out teaching, taking sick leave was something I hated. I disliked being away from my classroom, because it was MY classroom. I'm in control of what happens in there, and how the kids learn. It is my responsibility to get things done, and if I'm gone, I have to trust a substitute to take over... and that never goes well.. or hardly ever! I would feel guilty for missing, and worry that it made me look bad. I mean, people don't take time away from work! It's just not natural!

I grew up watching my dad take little time away from work. He'd work long hours during the week, and would often go in on weekends. As a CFO, he was responsible for so much at the office, and that weighed on him pushing him to bust his butt at all cost. I watched that everyday, and believed that I would also spend every waking minute working while finding time here and there to make a sports game or to coach.

But over the last 10 years that I've been teaching, my views on taking time off have changed. Sure, I still know that chaos is expected when I return to my classroom. "Mr. Mach, the sub didn't know anything, and you need to reteach it all!" That my favorite pencil will be gone.. seriously.. who takes a nice mechanical pencil!!!?? And that it's really days of instruction and progress lost. That said, I have to put my family's needs first in those moments. I could have just gone to work this week, and left my wife who herself was sick alone to take care of the throwing-up kids. That would have been the best idea, if I truly didn't like being married or seeing my kids.

I have learned that taking care of my family is more important than the properties of Kites and Trapezoids in a high school geometry class. And sure, I have an important job, but using my sick leave doesn't make me a bad person. If anything, it shows my students that I value my family, and take pride in being able to help out at home. For some of the kids, that may be a more important concept to learn than that the diagonal connecting the vertex angles of a kite is the perpendicular bisector of the diagonal connecting the non-vertex angles AND is also an angle bisector to the vertex angles! Awesome info? Sure it is! But it isn't more important than the health of my family!

Now, tell me how you feel when your kid's teacher is sick and not at work. Do you take sick days from your position?