I have always thought that The Walking Dead would make a much better title for a book or movie about teaching during cold and flu season. It’s no secret that we basically work in a Petri dish for viruses and bacteria. A whole lot of people all in one building together and a majority of those people struggle with hygiene and the concept of personal space. We really should be allowed to wear hazmat suits sometimes. Seriously.
We walk through the halls trying to avoid the infected. Handshakes and hugs become fast fist-bumps and vigorous application of hand sanitizer. Think about it. It is much like a zombie show or movie. We just don’t try to destroy the sick…although we are quick to recommend a phone call home or trip to the nurse…I guess that is kind of like a shot to the head for the cold and flu.
Anyway, the inevitable happens, and we become one of them. We get whatever is going around. Teachers get sick. It is a reality that is bound to happen, no matter the precautions we take. We become one with the zombies. We take the plunge into Walker-dom.
The most awful thing about getting sick as a teacher is that rest, getting better, and even going to the doctor is not that simple. This is one of the many things that I wish the world knew about the life of teaching. “Calling in a Sub” is not an easy task. It is, more times than not, easier just to play through the pain and just work sick.
Oh yes, we know that the other teachers are going to hate us for it. We are, in essence, upping the chances of their zombie-transformations. There is a slight chance that our own sickness came from the kindness of other teachers not wanting to bother a sub. And we are irritated by that, but at the same time the effort of going through the trouble of getting things set up for a substitute teacher is not always possible when you feel like you have been hit by a truck.
We have all done it. We have all avoided messiness of finding a sub, figuring out what to leave for students that sticks with pacing and what you have been doing, setting all of that up, dealing with the issues of the plans not being followed, and playing catch-up with students when you come back. We have gone in sick. We have because it is sometimes more restful just do that than all of that.
Sometimes we come in sick because we have to. There is a major test of some sort to give. There is a project that has to be finished. There is some kind of training during planning that is a one-time-only kind of thing. We come in because there is no other option.
Whatever the reason, we have all taught while sick. And now we are back to The Walking Dead. There is no better word for how that feels. We feel like walking dead. It is like the Theraflu commercial…
We are barely there. We are miserable. We feel bad. We feel worse that we might make other people sick. But we are there. We are trying to do what is right. It is the heart of the teacher in us.
Well, I would like to thank you for all of the times that you worked sick, Teacher. You are awesome to care so much for your students!
If you are experiencing this right now…like me…chin up. You will feel better eventually. It feels like being sick is your new reality, but colds and the flu go away. You will be back to yourself before long. Keep fighting!
And I would like to give you a piece of advice. If you can work up the muster to get everything together, call in a sub. You will be sick longer if you don’t rest. I know it is hard, but it is worth it. Many people have told you to look out for yourself, but it is true. You need to. Take care of yourself, Teacher.
You really are amazing. You are such a great teacher! I believe in you and you are making a difference! Keep on teaching, Teacher (even when your sick)!