[Daun Kauffman photo.]
This morning, I thought about taking a sick day—a mental health day. Yesterday was a rough day in the classroom, a day that ended with a parent-teacher conference after school hours. It was a day that I laid my head on my desk during my planning period and resorted to my hidden candy stash in my bottom desk drawer. This morning, I thought, “I’ll take my first sick day.” I’d been saving them for months, coming to school with a bag full of DayQuil and cough drops on more than one occasion.
“It will be fine,” I thought, at first. Then, I let my mind wander. “What if all of the subs are already taken? What if they have to split my classes amongst other teachers and then they’re all mad at me?”
“What if I do get a substitute teacher, but she can’t find my sub folder? What will they do all day? We have a test next week. What if one kid makes a bad grade and their parent is sure it’s because his teacher missed a day last week?”
“Grades are due tomorrow. I’ll have to log in today anyways to do those. I better just go.”
I let my teacher guilt get the best of me. Again. The truth is, it’s almost easier to suffer through a day of teaching even if you’re not mentally or physically okay than deal with the consequences of missing just one day. If I miss today, I’ll be five million papers behind on grading and my classroom may very well look like a trash can upon my return. I will be a day behind on working through this unit. I will be playing catch-up for at least a week. If I lessen my workload today, it doesn’t go away; I instead add to my already-consuming workload tomorrow.
I walked into the school reluctantly, desperately searching for the right mindset to greet the students that would be soon flowing through my classroom doors. As I walked into the classroom, my eyes go to the bulletin board at the front of my classroom.
“How are you today?”
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