Every job is more difficult when you are not feeling well, but as a person who has had several careers, I have to say that teaching is by far the most difficult job to do when you are not up to par. When I had jobs in computer systems support or corporate training and I wasn't quite at 100%, I would just have to sit at my desk and do the very minimum. I could do "easier", less intense work. I could get up at any time and get a drink of water or use the bathroom. I could go home and not have to worry about writing sub plans and gathering everything together so the day could go on as normal for the kids. As a teacher we are very time constrained. When that bell rings at 9:05 a.m. we teachers are standing in the doorway greeting students and keeping order in the hallways as students arrive. For the next seven hours, we are in constant motion as we teach, escort, monitor, advise, help, and supervise twenty-something little ones.
Last Friday and today, I wasn't feeling very well. I've had some kind of virus, which apparently was contracted from one of the four students I had out sick today. Two students went home sick on Friday and I took extra precautions to clean their desks with an antibacterial wipe. It didn't help. I managed to make it through Friday by repeating to myself that it was Friday and watching the clock trying to hang on. Several students noticed and asked me if I was OK. I told them I wasn't really feeling too well.
"Me either," groaned one little girl as she patted her stomach. "My stomach feels really, really weird." [Note: she was out today]
I flip-flopped between freezing cold and so hot I felt like I was under a burning sun. So, naturally, last Friday I had car duty, which meant I had to help assist students into cars and keep the wildness to a minimum near the car lane. And let me tell you, that's no easy task on a Friday afternoon. Hang on, I kept reminding myself. Stay positive! You'll have two whole days to relax and get better.
Finally home, I practically went straight to bed with the hopes that Saturday I would wake up rested and 100% healthy. Not the case. I ended up feeling pretty sick the entire weekend. I missed the staff holiday party. I didn't get to decorate my house like I had intended. For the first time this year, I didn't even look at my school bag of "stuff".
So, today I went into school and prepared my plans for the day. I got to listen to all the fun stories about the staff party I missed. Some people even told me they missed me and was sorry I was sick. My stomach felt pretty much back to normal. Business as usual.
I don't think many people truly appreciate the little things us teachers do each and every day. We stand on our feet for hours. We bend and squat down to little kid levels to talk and help. We listen intently to stories that don't really interest us. We spend our recess time helping that student who always needs extra help. We zip coats and find lost mittens. We open water bottles and help with band-aids. We help find just the right book. We get them to the office when they are sick. We compliment students on their accomplishments. We listen and we care.
Even when we're sick.