Friday, May 9, 2014

Year 4: Week 33 - Working While Sick

You should NOT come to school to teach if you are sick.

If you want to take care of your students the most important thing that you need to do is take care of yourself. A school is a crowded place. As a teacher you can easily spread whatever is ailing you to a lot of other students and cause a lot of kids to be sick. It is irresponsible to yourself and your students to come in and teach when you are sick.

I believe in the sentiment of this statement but this week I totally went against what I preach.

I came down with a cold last weekend. I didn’t have a fever but I had every other possible symptom you could imagine. By Monday morning I was still feeling pretty awful, I had little to no voice and I felt like all I wanted to do was sleep. But I went to work anyways.

Many teachers come to work sick, not because they are irresponsible but because they are being perhaps too responsible. My 5th graders had their culminating medieval presentation on Thursday. We were going to rehearse for it Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nobody else could really fill in and run the music part of the rehearsal so that’s why I decided to come in, even though I was sick.

So there I was standing on stage facing almost sixty fifth graders, feeling horrendous, attempting to start a rehearsal. Before I started one of the 5th grade teachers had mentioned that I was sick and asked the kids to work hard to help me out. I wasn’t quite sure what this would mean to the kids.

I attempted to talk and only got a raspy couple words out. I sounded so bad especially with my voice amplified by a microphone that I just had to laugh. It was comical how sick I sounded.

I had this talk ready about how the students needed to adjust their behavior when working in a large group. I also was going to teach them a new signal to tell them to be quiet. I had so little voice that I just decided to skip the expectation talk and get straight to work.

I couldn’t really lead them in our normal vocal warm-up so I gestures for them to do it without me and they did. Throughout the process they listened to the few words I said and they did a great job.

The 8th graders I taught earlier in the day were supportive in a similar way (except for all of the jokes about mono).  I’m not sure if the kids were behaving so well because they were sympathetic or for some other reasons, but it was really nice.

I felt sick the rest of the week and still came in.  It was a really hard week and while I don't regret it, I definitely wouldn't want to do it again.  I'll need to document my work better so that someone could fill in if I can't make the 5th grade presentation next year.  If I'm doing my job right, then I'm working in a way that someone could fill in.

I'm still in disbelief how awesome my students were when I was sick.  For your sake, I'll try to follow my own advice better and take better care of myself. 


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