I fail.  Except that really I don’t.  I remember a teacher my last year of undergrad saying this, “Yes, you are important.  But your health is more important than you standing in your classroom.”    I called my mom yesterday (to whine about being sick) and she made some comment about me using a lot of sick days.  Well, sorry mom, I used three this year and I get ten.  I’ve used less than half in more than half the year.  I feel like as teachers we’ve created this culture of  calling in sick being the worst thing in the world and while it is not the best the kids are not going to die from one day without me.  And I am sick.  So, sorry.

I came back today and am showing part of Goonies.  I am a terrible teacher.  We took the last 35 minutes of a 72 minute period to watch this.  It’s partially because I’m sick and partially because they were good for the sub.  So yes, I showed a movie that has nothing to do with math.

So here are my questions for you:

After so many blog posts about all the good things we do what are the things you do that you are not proud of?

Do you feel guilty when you call in sick? Do you think you should?

Do you use all your sick days?

Do you ever show movies?





15 thoughts on “failure.

  1. What I’m I not proud of? My goodness, where to start. I lose patience and bug out my eyes and shake my head and sigh. I call on kids I know aren’t paying attention just to embarrass them into compliance. I re-use lessons that I know weren’t very effective if I don’t have time to think up something new. I could just go on and on. I’m a terrible person.

    I don’t feel guilty about calling in sick, but I only do it when I’m really sick. When you’re feeling really lousy, you’re not going to be very effective, and you’re going to get other people sick. There’s no shame in staying home. We get 20 sick days a year and I usually use 3 or 4.

    I rarely show movies. When I need to take it easy I normally find some kind of self-checking practice worksheet where the class won’t need much intervention from me.


    1. I never feel guilty about calling on the kid who isn’t paying attention. I often use it as a classroom management technique. The kids are really embarrassed but it does make the whole class perk up a little.
      As a matter of fact an administrator once did a tally of who I called on during a class. She said that I called on more boys that girls. When I reflected on my practice I realized that I sometimes call on kids to keep them engaged, to refocus them and more often than not it is the boys who need help in this area!!


  2. Kate’s first paragraph applies to me as well. I do all those things.

    I don’t feel guilty about sick days at all. Not even a little bit. I take days off to go to conferences or to deal with personal stuff as well. I’m taking a day off before our Feb break because the plane ticket was $200 cheaper if I flew on Friday instead of Saturday. I don’t feel even a little bit guilty about that. They are there to be used for whatever reason.

    I will say I don’t like taking too many days off in a row, but not because I feel guilty. My room gets out of control messy after a couple days of a sub (and I’m not that clean to start with). Plus the kids are crazy when I get back and it’s a pain to prep sub work.


  3. The first time I went into teaching (about 16 years ago), I was sure that from day one I was gonna be the greatest, most awesomest teacher ever. When I found out I wasn’t (which didn’t take long), I quit. And I don’t think that was a good thing for anybody.

    Having recently gotten back in the game, I vowed not to beat myself up for not being Super Teacher, and instead to congratulate myself for just being an Ordinary Good Teacher. Some days I’m not at the top of my game and when that happens I try to learn from it and do it better next time. And if I’m sick I stay home and wait to get healthy. But most days I’m just doing an Ordinary Good job and for a gig as tough as teaching, I think that’s pretty damn good.

    You’re allowed to be sick sometimes, and you’re allowed to not be Awesome sometimes, and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.


  4. Ditto Kate’s first paragraph/Jason. I also got that awful sinking-stomach-feeling when I pretended not to see misbehavior that I clearly saw because I didn’t want to deal with it, hid in my classroom instead of doing lunch duty on particularly miserable days, and occasionally skimmed and threw out exit tickets that I didn’t want to grade.

    We didn’t have sick days at my school, and being sick = guilt because other teachers had to cover your classes (we also didn’t have subs– teachers definitely taught with the stomach flu or other communicable illnesses when they totally should have stayed home). Thankfully, I have a pretty strong constitution. That said, I felt no guilt over taking days off for professional development, and probably would have been a better teacher with the occasional mental health day off 😛


  5. I will defend myself a little here. “Abrandnewline” ‘heard’ me criticize her use of sick days, I heard myself say “have you used a lot of sick days?” She often hears criticism when I am only commenting. Honest! 🙂

    One of the reasons I am reluctant to be out of the classroom is that it takes me a great deal of time to make good sub plans that involve more than busy work.

    I seldom show movies, if I am out more than one day I might show a Bill Nye video – followed by a quiz or a quickwrite (middle school math topics include Probability & Measurement)

    I show “Remember the Titans” at the end of each year. My most successful showing of it was last year when we watched it 20 minutes at a time after we had accomplished some math in class. It was a good end of year motivator. It also has some important US history and social comments, especially for kids on their way to high school.


      1. Yes, I did. First year teachers need to build up immunities to the bacteria/viruses that are native to their new environment.
        It sounds silly but it’s true.
        Unless you’ve been hanging around with kids of the same age as your students, you’re in for a whole new assault on your immune system.
        Last year in my school we had cases of tuberculosis, H1N1, chicken pox, whooping cough, head lice, fifth’s disease, and probably others.
        Eat well, get plenty of rest and use your health benefits!!


  6. I feel guilty all the time about my teaching. And now I feel guilty lots of the time about being a bad student. Guess you can’t win 😛

    As for sick days, after a couple years of never taking them unless I was actually dying, I use them when I want to. I find taking “mental health” days when I feel like I need them has actually improved my health. Instead of winding up so sick I’m useless on the couch for days, I’ll take a day when I need it and sleep and be lazy and I don’t wind up sick. Win! I’ll also take sick days if I have enough marking that it just can’t be done on personal time with my sanity intact and I don’t feel bad for that, it all plays into my overall health.

    I never/rarely show movies. Too many other people on my staff do and the kids feel like they’re entitled to it. Makes me mental.


  7. Although I haven’t used any sick days yet, I roll my eyes at students, I gossip, I laugh at things that I shouldn’t allow to be said, I ignore some students who are behind because I don’t think they can catch up, I ignore questions so I can move on, and oh yeah, I completely suck at classroom management.

    I showed movies two or three times last year but I haven’t shown any this year. Sometimes I let them color…


  8. only about 7 months late on this, but have a comment on sick time. I have always been proud of not taking time off, etc. and in 10 years have accrued over 500 hours. The issue being that when I needed to use those and wanted to have them converted to personal necessity hours (adopted a toddler and wanted to take that time to get her acclimated) my district said no. what good is saving all of those hours??


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