Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Conundrum

I haven't written for a week for two reasons.

One, I've been really busy. Imagine that from a teacher.

Reason number two has to due with the primary subject of this post. Around last Friday I experienced the scratchy throat. It was followed by the minor cough that became congestion by the middle of last week. By Wednesday the congestion had drifted into my chest and I was in a full blown coughing fit. Now a week has passed and I still have a deep chest cough, but the energy is better and I can function.

Every year teachers are exposed to the little nasty bugs that kids bring in with them from out in the nether-world. Teachers must have some of the greatest immune systems on the planet because we go through any number of virus and bacteria infections. Every year I run through two series of colds, one in October and one in the spring (which might be more allergy driven). I've been seriously sick a few times. My first year was a two day nasty flu bug, and my second year was a flu that turned into walking pneumonia. I was out for a week. Since then I get a 24 hour bug here and there, but I don't usually get too out of it. Which brings us to the conundrum.

When should the teacher not show for school due to illness?

Contrary to those idiots that seem to think teachers live to be out of school, absence of any kind is much harder work. Consider that I need to prepare a sub for three different preps, hope that I get a sub that has some semblance of ability to follow directions (most don't), and then clean up the damage when I get back. I've had one, maybe two subs that are worth anything since I've been at the high school. One still subs on occasion and the other became a full time teacher. Both managed to get things done, one doing over an entire week with May! However, there are times when the benefit of being at home outweighs the cost of educating the little tykes. When will I stay home? Simply, when I don't see myself as able to do my job effectively.

That means if I'm throwing up, I'm not going to school. I made the attempt during my second year that I was going to ignore my up-chucking ways and fight through it, only to end up puking my guts out 20 minutes before class with my colleague making fun of me to no end (good fun). I ended up going home anyway, worse for wear. But that's because I'm pretty much unable to perform my duties as teacher, almost anything else still qualifies me to go into classroom and give it a run.

Where do "mental health days" fit into that? Well, I don't really take mental health days because they end up not being relaxing at all. First you have to prepare for the day that you are gone and then fix all the garbage that occurs when you return. In all, the day becomes a bigger pain in the ass than it had intended to be. Add to that that by the time you have a few years under your belt, the need for mental health days should go away. You become more organized, use your prep more wisely, and become to understand that real teacher hours aren't necessarily contract hours. And that's ok.

So go away sickness go away, even though it will help build that immune system for another day.
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