Sick days

There has been a lot going on in my life since my last post. My husband was hospitalized and spent five days in ICU. (It was very scary, but he’s on the road to recovery now). I missed the entire second to the last week of school prior to winter break.

5 days in a row.

My boss and coworkers were wonderfully supportive. Everyone pitched in to help make sure my classes were “okay”. I had the same sub for those five days so there wasn’t as much disruption as there could have been for my students (yes, this is a rationalization to attempt to alleviate my guilt).

I need about two more days to get caught up on grading  and I need to tweak my plans for the first week back in January, but other than that, things should be back to normal soon.

This morning as I’m sitting here sipping ginger-ale and eating saltines (yep, I caught something while my mom was in the hospital (she’s doing better now too)), I started thinking about what happens to students when they have something like this going on in thier lives. They don’t get a substitue. A co-worker can’t write their sub-plans for them.

How many of my students are caring for sick family members and still trying to be students?

Once again, I’m realizing that I need to do a better job of knowing what’s going on in my students’ lives.

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6 Responses to Sick days

  1. Ξ says:

    Jackie, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband and mom. I hope that everyone (including yourself!) is feeling better soon.

    School isn’t the most important thing, and I think students don’t always share when things are going on (nor should they feel obliged to). But one thing I struggle with is how much accommodation to give — what’s fair, knowing that life really gets in the way at times and a little sympathy can go a long way, but also knowing that it doesn’t necessarily do someone any favors to let them get too far behind. I don’t have easy answers with that, but your post reminds me that it’s worth giving people the benefit of the doubt when they aren’t doing as much as I’d expect. Sometimes it’s because their priorities are in the exact right place.

  2. Sarah says:

    Jackie, glad everyone is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery.

    In college, when something traumatic happened in a friend’s life, they were given the opportunity to extend deadlines into the next break. Or to drop a class without penalty. The school was somehow able to help accommodate them in ways that I don’t know how to do in my high school.

    I go back to the differentiation line about fairness meaning everyone gets what they need, not that everyone gets the same thing. I look at my students knowing that they’re so far behind, knowing that they are not getting what they need, knowing that they do not know the extent of this truth and are dealing with so much else. I want to give them the break, but I know that it’s everyone, all the time. And that giving them breaks is partly how we got here.

    I call friends and family, come online to the blogs and e-mails, leave the reservation on breaks in order to process my life and to find my sense of balance. As a general rule my students, who are the ones really in the midst of it, don’t get these opportunities. I wonder how I can expect them to keep up when it takes me so long to deal with the messes I know about on top of the normal melodrama of being a teenager.

    This post struck a chord I’ve been playing with this month. No answers, just a seconding of the realization.

  3. Jackie says:

    Ξ I too struggle with how much to give. I tend to think I’m pretty fair and I agree that it isn’t right to let the students get too far behind, but everything doesn’t always need to be done “right now”. I usually ask the students to tell me what seems reasonable and we go from there.

    Your situation is so much different than mine Sarah. I work in an upper-middle class suburban school. My students (I assume) are not living in crisis like many of yours are. Those are the assumptions I need to check.

    When I did work with students with so many other issues it was so much tougher. There were many a moment I wondered does factoring this trinomial really matter when they have so many other things going on. I have no easy answers for you. I do admire you and the work you do. I don’t know if that helps.

  4. This is such an important conversation – I don’t have the answers but I do wish teachers would discuss this with their colleagues and try to understand life from their students’ perspectives as you have done.
    Once more, your sensitivity to your students is apparent. Wish others felt the same as you.

    And I hope that things calm down for you in 2009.

  5. Sarah says:

    Jackie, Just getting back from the travels of break. My comment was written in the three-story library in the college town where my grandparents live, so I was feeling even more aware of the differences in our situations than usual.

  6. Heather Dowd says:

    I think it’s good to get a reality check into our students’ lives every once in awhile. I think we, as teachers, forget sometimes how much work students really are doing…most of them anyway. An administrator at a school I taught at used to remind all the teachers before holidays that students needed a break too so please do not assign any homework. I thought it was nice of him to think of the students and push for a break for everyone.

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