All teachers have to take off days from their classroom. All teachers have appointments, have sick kids, or even get sick themselves. There are really exceptional substitutes in each school district BUT.... most teachers still don't like having to take a day off. Why? Most times, it is more trouble than it is worth. I have heard so many teachers say that they would rather come to school sick than have a sub. I am one of them.
Why Teachers Come to Work Sick
Preparing for a Sub
Preparing for a substitute take lots of pre-planning. You have to ready student rosters, individual schedules, classroom schedules, medical conditions (if needed), discipline plans, classroom rules, seating charts, copied papers... and the list goes on. All of these classroom extras have to be written out in detail so that the substitute can locate them, decipher them, and then implement them. Big signs that say, "Sub Look Here" or Sub tubs, or sub folders are placed in strategic locations around teacher desks. Preparing these for a sub takes loads of time and effort. I try to have this prepared early in the year. Ideally, my substitute packets would be in place before the first day. I know... you teachers just laughed because that never happens. But once you get these classroom extras all ready, you still aren't finished. You still have to update items as the year progresses and your class changes.
Time and effort all for the event that you might need a sick day.
Writing lesson plans for a substitute is tricky. The lesson plans we write for ourselves are not always what a sub needs or wants. Substitutes need more details and more instructions. Some subs only want worksheets. Our lesson plans may have cryptic words that tell us, the teacher, exactly what to do, but a substitute would have no clue. It usually takes me at least 1 planning period to rewrite my lesson plans for a substitute- to make them more detailed and understandable. This is when I know I am going to be out and will have a substitute. It is different when you have no notice. When you or a loved one is sick, you have to already have something in place or be able to adapt your lessons from home. One reason why I use Planbook.com is that I can move lessons around easily and email the plans to a fellow teacher from home.
Okay, I will admit that when I became sick last month and knew I would be out for over a day, I implemented drastic measures. I had my 15 year old daughter (who has a driving permit) drive me to school at 7:00 pm while I had 102 fever. We spent over an hour at my school, in the dark, all alone, trying to prepare for a couple of sick days. Thank God my daughter helped!
If you are not a teacher, you are probably shocked. If you are a teacher, you are probably just nodding your head and saying, "Been there. Done that. And have the t-shirt."
There are also certain lessons that I don't want a sub teaching, such as the introduction to multiplication. This is what happened to me last year. I was scheduled to introduce multiplication and then came down with a serious bug. I had to postpone the unit until I returned because it was too important for someone else to teach.
Changing lesson plans = time spent.
Which leads me to my next point...although there are fabulous substitutes, there are some that are not so great. I have had to reteach topics that I erroneously thought any adult could teach. Not the case. Many substitutes have no formal teaching experience. They may not know how to introduce a topic, check for learning, and differentiate lessons. If you are lucky, you can get a retired teacher. These are the best!
I also want to mention that there is no guarantee that if you are out for a couple of days that you will have the same substitute each day. I didn't. I had 2 different subs, but you could have a different substitute each day. This is not best practice for the students since each substitute is teaching in a different style and setting different expectations. Reteaching then becomes imperative.
Students are a Mess
If you have a troubled student or a special needs students, a substitute may not know how to work with these students. The teacher being out of the classroom can really be the catalyst for extreme behaviors. While I was out for 4 days, I received an email from a mom, who then contacted our school liaison and my school principle. I then had several phone calls while I was sick from my principal about this student. Top priority when I returned to school was to meet with the parent. All of this was for behavior when I wasn't even in the classroom.
Sigh. More time.
Classroom is a Mess
Teachers work hard on their classrooms. They arrange, decorate, rearrange, redesign, and then do it all over again. We spend time teaching and training students on how to "live" in our classroom. Students know the rules of the classroom- pencil rules, where papers go, and how to clean up. I love working in my classroom. It is like my little sanctuary. I have my favorite colors and things arranged just like I like them. Imagine having someone else living in your sanctuary for a couple of days. With 20 kids. Who are conveniently forgetting all of the rules they are supposed to know. That's what having a substitute in your classroom is like. No matter how good of a substitute they are, they are not you. I have actually taken a huge breath with my hand on the classroom door, steeling myself for what is inside. Sometimes it is okay. Oh, but other times, I would swear a tornado went through my room.
Even more time.
Time. Something that you can't buy, but you can spend so easily. Time. Something that you lose quickly, but never get back.
I figure for every 1 day a teacher takes off, 2 days are spent in either the pre-planning or the post substitute clean up. So if this holds true, I was out for 4 days and spent 8 days either planning or getting everything straightened back up and on track. Pause...Thinking....Yeah...that's about right. No wonder teachers come to work sick...
Need some tips for classroom management? Check out my Crazy about Classroom Management Pinterest Board!