Presented by: Jen Johnson, PhD
Perhaps one of the most uniquely difficult things about being a teacher is all that is involved in taking a sick day.
I can't think of another profession where taking a sick day involves finding a replacement and writing a moment by moment breakdown of how that replacement is supposed to do your job, especially when your substitute may or may not have any experience actually doing the job. Depending on whether your area is experiencing substitute shortages, you could make that detailed plan and it might not even be used!
Then add in unrealistic expectations of perfect attendance that are promoted and financially rewarded in many districts, and it's no wonder you struggle to take a sick day!
I could go on and on, but you know what the issues are because you live it.
I want to give you three Actions Steps straight from my book THRIVing After Burnout: A Teacher's Compassionate Guide to help you strategize around making the choice to take a sick day.
I didn't plan to tell this personal story today, but because of what's going on with me on this beautiful Friday, I'm changing it up.
I'm currently going through treatment for an autoimmune disease, and I feel like total crap. Sick selfie below.
I've been in bed most of today working on my phone. I got up once to see if I could work at my desk and filmed an Instagram story and then realized it was a terrible idea.
I remember when I had these flares when I was a teacher. A sub never picked up my jobs, and I always felt guilty, like I was letting my students and co-workers down. The years I taught first grade were the worst. I had no idea what was wrong with me (nor did my doctors) and I was so hard on myself. Frankly, my co-workers weren't that supportive either.
It was during that time that I realized that my expectations for myself were toxic. I realized that I had been taught that being at school was more important than my health, and I had bought into the lie.
A few weeks ago I shared with my email list that when I was a teacher I went to work sick a lot. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I was rarely contagious, but I could never find a sub. I worked with deaf and hard of hearing students and subs were really intimidated by accepting jobs in a classroom where they couldn't communicate with the students directly.
If I had to be out, I always felt what I thought was "guilt". I couldn't take a physical or mental health day without feeling like a bad teacher that was letting down my students and my co-teacher.
What I was feeling was not actually guilt, so let's talk about what guilt is.
Emotions, in general, exist to give us information about what happening in our world. For example, anger tells us that injustice is happening, sadness tells us we're experiencing a loss of some kind, and fear tells us we're in danger. So what does guilt tell us?
It tells us that we've done something wrong that we need to make amends for.
So let's think...
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