Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Take Care of Yourself

Note: This blog post focuses directly on you, the teacher, and not on the students, the curriculum, teaching methods, etc. I feel I need to write this blog post before my mind will be freed up to return to writing other posts related to teaching. Please take this advice to heart and act upon it if you realize it pertains to you!

Have you ever postponed going to the doctor because you didn't want to take off a day of school? Teaching is a demanding job, but writing lesson plans, valid lesson plans and not just fluff, for a substitute teacher for your classes is, in my opinion, a more demanding job.

I have 3 different preps and I hate missing a day of school because:

1. I feel like we are crunched for time, as it is, with our schedule (we only have 100 hours with the students per language level)

2. Three different preps with 70 minute classes! That says it all. Preparing substitute lesson plans for 1 prep takes time; preparing sub plans for 2 preps is twice the work; and sub plans for 3 preps, well, I usually decide that it is easier for me NOT to miss school and throw out the idea of going to any appointments. Sure, I could have the students watch a movie, but....did you read #1?

3. When I make substitute lesson plans that are solid, it usually requires me to respond, in some format, to the work that students did after I return to school the next day. In other words, I have additional work waiting for me when I return. (I know, there are emergency and substitute lesson plans you can buy online, but they don't always match up for what I want for my students.)

However, I am here to tell you, maybe to admit to you is a better choice of words, that the above thinking is flawed. The best thing that teachers can do for their students is to take care of themselves. If it means making substitute lesson plans that may not be up to par to what you really want, then so be it. Cut yourself a break. Think of the many other professions in which employees are able to easily take a sick day and aren't required to make plans for others while they are absent from work. 

Do you get the picture? YOU need to take care of yourself, first! As teachers, there are many times that we put our jobs and our students first. That's noble and that's good, but when it comes to our health, we shouldn't be doing that.  

If, by chance, someone tells you that since as a teacher you "only" work 9 months, (gross misconception by those not in education; they also think we work 7 1/2 hr days; teachers know that is not true), you should wait until the summer to schedule all your doctor appointments, then simply smile and move on. If you're organized and plan ahead, scheduling those screenings for the summer is a good idea but, if you have postponed and delayed appointments already, don't fall into the trap of allowing someone trying to shame you into delaying appointments until the summer.  

I realize I am writing this in mid-May when there are only days, or weeks remaining in the school year.  However, it's possible that when you read this, it will be months after I wrote it.  In that case, summer may not be a few weeks away and in that case, don't delay. You need to come first.

If you're reading this and you are feeling a little bit of guilt - GOOD! That's what I'm aiming for because I want to push you, or guilt you, into action.

It is easy to find lists of preventive health care screenings on the internet.   
Follow this link: Preventive Health Screenings for a list of screenings, and then visit your primary care physician and seek her/his input and advice. 

And..I'm not an expert on insurances, but I think it is the norm for insurances to pay 100% for preventive health screenings. 

I'll step down off my soap box now.  I'm not sure what else I could say to make it more clear to you that it doesn't matter what your abilities are as a teacher, if you are sidelined by medical problems that could have been nipped in the bud if you had gone to the doctor for your preventive health screenings.

Take care of yourself. Your students, their parents, and your administration, need you to do that. No exceptions.  :-)


  1. Thank you for writing this (she says, having taken a personal day today). I wish more people thought like this! Unfortunately I work in a district that ties your evaluation and Performance Based Compensation to your attendance - any more than 4 absences and both are negatively affected. It's awful (and prejudicial against parents, particularly mothers, if you ask me.)

    1. Missed days of school for sickness and doctor appointments negatively affect your evaluation? Unbelievable. How can that be legal?

    2. Your guess is truly as good as mine. I guess they consider "absenteeism" (their words, not mine) as having a negative impact on student growth.

  2. Replies
    1. Ruth,
      No time like the present to change that.
      Let's just say it's good I don't have your phone number or I'd text you every week until you scheduled whatever appointments you've been delaying. :-)