I have a cold. Hopefully it's the end of it since I've had it for a week. This blog will be told in two parts. The first, a slight rant about how hard it is for teachers when they get sick (or at least how difficult it was for me). The second, how technology can make life easier in this same situation.
My family is fairly healthy and I (usually) only get small colds towards the beginning of the school year. This means I'm rarely out of the classroom for illness. In fact, I just discovered I have enough sick days to be out half a year. (Good news for when I get close to retirement, bad news when I think how often I could have taken a mental health day and didn't.) This last week, as I didn't sleep, couldn't breathe and could barely move without an ache or ten, my husband convinced me to take the day off. (This was a slight struggle as it was Halloween and I couldn't imagine asking a guest teacher to step in on such a fun but difficult day!) As I got out of bed hopefully only long enough to arrange a sub and send a few plans, I realized nothing was going to be that easy.
After an hour and half of getting on the computer to "order" the sub, write the lesson plans, and put together the review I told another teacher I would have ready for her for the upcoming 6th grade test, I remembered why I DON'T stay home often. By the time I had finished preparing for a day I wouldn't be at school, it was almost not worth the effort to stay home! ALMOST! I have always laughed at those who say, just stay home the sub can handle the class and you have back-up plans in the office. Anyone who has taught realizes that not going to work is a lot more than just not showing up. You still have to give the kids something to do and have to deal with any issues once you return.
The day might have gone a little better had I not gotten a text from my office manager almost an hour into the school day saying she couldn't get the plans I sent to her for the sub. (School Halloween parade meant no one needed it sooner so she hadn't checked!) UGH! With a little research, I found Google had flagged the plans as inappropriate! This would have been laughable (really, what could have been inappropriate about telling another teacher what to teach the class????) had I not already spent so much of my "sick day" trying to get my class on the right track without me there. Because of all the hassle I knew I would return the next day, whether I was feeling better or not.
Rant over, now the good stuff. Even with the missing lesson plans (which were eventually unflagged and emailed in), the students didn't miss a beat. While I was at home trying to figure out what exactly went wrong, a few problem solvers in the class decided to check out Google Classroom to see if I had posted any assignments. Of course I had! They were able to get started on the assignment before the adult knew what needed to be done. The other adult I have in my room daily said it all went well and the kids knew exactly what to do. That's the great part about technology, my students can run the class and only need an adult around for when they have a question or two.
Even the review I mentioned earlier was saved through tech. My teaching partner knew we were going to show short videos to review the concepts that were on the upcoming test. The problem was she had no way to access them since each student group chose them and shared with me in Classroom. No problem. I copied the links into a doc and shared them with both her and myself. This meant I had a copy in my email, which I knew was open on my computer in the classroom. She reviewed them in her class, then showed them to the students in my room at the appropriate time.
I have no idea if I will stay home the next time I get a cold (one of the joys of being around kids all day is that even after 20 years I still get their germs!), but I do know that I needn't worry about whether the class will be taken care of. Technology and the kids' ability to problem solve will help everything flow smoothly. Oh, another good thing I forgot to mention, the kids felt so bad that I was sick and had no voice that they were REALLY good for the next TWO days!
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching