You know these funny little pictures you see floating around Facebook and Pinterest, we see them and we laugh and nod our head. Well I'm hear to tell you it is true and it really isn't a laughing matter. Think about it- what other profession has to have a substitute when the employee is sick. If I worked at an office, my co-workers would just have to pick up the slack, or my job just doesn't happen and all my work is still piled up waiting for my return. If I worked at the grocery store, the lines might be a little longer due to one less checker. When teachers are sick what happens.?
Stage 1 Denial
First we pretend we aren't sick. We tell people it's allergies. We then say, I feel fine, I just sound terrible.
Stage 2 The Little White Lie
We tell people we aren't contagious. We lie and say, 'it's just a cold".
Stage 3 Admitting We Are Sick
There comes a point when we've gone too far. Our body is shaking because we feel like we are in a freezer. There is a loud pounding in our head as if we were at a Bon Jovi concert. Finally we admit it. We say those 2 awful words every teacher can't stand to say... I'M SICK!
What happens next is so different for us teachers than it is for anyone else. We can't just say those 2 little words and crawl into bed.
Stage 4 Panic
This is when we start to panic. We have to get a substitute teacher and prepare lesson plans. Sometimes we even have to go to school and set everything up. I've been there on a Sunday night in my pajamas, almost falling over because the world was spinning, but I couldn't let my kinder kids down. I had to leave plans. #thestruggleisreal
BUT… what happens when she can't come at the last minute. This is usually when I relapse into Stage 1 DENIAL--I tell myself just go in you can make it through the day, because I know the alternative could be tragic. Let me paint you a picture of a few options I have. Option #1, is me with my head on the desk, begging the kids to not write too loudly. Option #2 THE SUB FINDER. This is our system. We get on the computer, check a few boxes and then it begins calling the 5 people on our preferred list. They of course either already have a job or don't want it. Next, it randomly calls people on our district sub list until someone excepts the job.
Stage 5 Anxiety
From the comforts of my couch I keep checking the system to see if the job has been filled. My fear is that no one will take the job. Then it happens a name appears and you feel even worse because you know your room will be destroyed, nothing will get done and your teaching partners will be texting you all day to tell you what is going on.
Before I go on and tell you my tragic stories of substitute teachers- I will say that I have a lot of respect for those who are guest teachers. I used to be one, so I know how hard the job is. After my very first day of being a sub, I went home and cried and said I don't want to teach ever again. Now that the shoe is on the over foot, I also know how to prepare for a sub. I teach my kids to be on their best behavior when I am gone and I don't expect everything to go smoothly. I expect the sub to do their best to follow my plans, but most of all, take care of my babies.
So why do I worry when the sub job goes to a random stranger? It has nothing to do with a stranger teaching my babies or being in my room and snooping through my drawers. It has to do with the fear that my babies might not be taken care of. Let me list some of the "Guest Teachers" I've had in the past.
#1 Mr. Rubber Rain-boots and Piccolo: Yes- the first thing he did was enter the room, take off his rubber boots and proceed to play the piccolo.
#3 I Don't Follow the Lesson Plans: I'm not really a teacher, I just signed up to play one; it's easy money. This person doesn't have any idea of how to work with kids, they just let the kids have free choice and hand out the assignments without ever explaining them.
#4 The Homeless Looking Guy: According to my colleagues they thought he was a grandparent because he was waiting outside the door with the kids. He looked homeless and smelled a bit. I know that at another school they gave him a t-shirt to wear and keep.
#5 Mrs. Zero Tolerance: I'm fine for coming in strong, showing the kids you're in charge, but there is a limit. You can't just farm all the kids out to my colleagues to make your day a little easier.
Stage 6 Acceptance and Healing
At some point after the bell rings we have to accept the fact that we won't be going in. We have to put our phone on silent and ignore the texts and missed calls from colleagues and begin to heal. If we spend our time worrying and checking in all day how are we going to recover quickly. After all, the goal for staying home when you're sick is to recoup and make a speedy recovery.
I know I'm not the only one with crazy substitute tales. I also know we've all been through these 6 stages of being sick. I invite you to share your tales with me and my readers.
It's simple, Link up below and use the image to link back here.