Day 53 (of 188) on teacher absences
Today had a couple questions all involving ‘absences’. And I don’t mean ‘sick absences’ because those range dramatically from chronic health to colds and that impacts everyone differently (as years ago one VP threw me under the bus: a teacher in the staffroom was talking about how bad the school air was and that everyone was sick so often; he turned to me and asked how many sick days I had taken – 0…..) but “real absences” made by choice.
I know many have strong feelings about this. Consistency of classroom is one legitimate concern. Cavalcade of TOCs not having enough time to establish relationships with students. Teacher absence compounded by student absence. And on and on…concerns by Principals, Teachers, Parents, AND Students. And all legitimate. But to be honest, I like it when my staff is away…
Shhh, but I have a strong belief statement: It is unfortunate to have teacher leaders because that means that they are needed outside their classroom and beyond our learning community. It means they won’t always be teaching in their classrooms.
Sometimes it is for professional development, which benefits the teacher and their students. This can be in-services or stand-and-delivers or discussion groups; all benefit the teacher in attendance and the students/staff when they return to share their knowledge.
Sometimes for workshops which need to have school representation. Other times for the union or for other schools for extra help/learning/support. We need to be part of our bigger learning community; we are all part of the same district.
Best of all is when they are ‘requested’ – especially to lead discussions and events. I love bragging about my staff and take secret joy when I push them into zones-of-uncomfortableness when/where others get to see them for the leaders that they are.
It never starts intentionally but it ‘sneaks up’ on them. I remember going to my principal one year and asking if I’m away too often – he said something that kinda morphed into my belief statement. My own experiences away from “my/our” classroom benefited both myself and my entire learning community. I see the same thing from my staff.
And never think that it’s easy. The prep for a TOC. The concern and thinking about “whats happening” while away. Sometimes you can have a consistency in “who’s in for you” (but many of those ‘regulars’ end up getting full time work) so none of it is easy – it’s also a key reason why so many teachers “work through the sickness” or “pass on opportunities”. Neither is good, and I’ve been guilty of both.
It’s never easy taking an ‘absence’ as a teacher, but then again, who said teaching was easy?!