Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First-Year Illness

Everyone gets sick their first year. This is something that you'll be told and it will probably be true. I only called out one day last year, but I felt near death as the result of some bug one of my students probably gave me. Teaching the children definitely puts you at risk for illness. The key is to deal with it and keep on trucking.

Last year I called out one time for a sick day, which I referenced in my post about Following Through. At the beginning of the year last year I made the assumption that I wouldn't be out sick, as I hadn't missed a single day of student teaching. Now, it did take an awful lot to knock me down, but the fact was that I had to leave school one day mid-morning and I called out the next day. If that day hadn't been a Friday I would have had to call out a second day.

I started feeling pretty terrible in the morning. The people I took the train with told me that I needed to just head back to my apartment and call in. I of course thought that was silly, especially since it was going to be a morning of testing followed by shortened classes. Getting to school I put my head down in my room until it was time to distribute testing materials. Before the test was half-way over I had to excuse myself twice to go get sick in the bathroom. I decided it wasn't worth it to tough it out until the end of the day, so I made my way to the train with labored breathing, heading home in the late morning. The labored breathing got worse and I nearly passed out on the train a couple times, especially when transferring to another train, and the walk home from the station that normally took three minutes ended up being about fifteen. By the time my girlfriend showed up at my place I was delirious with a fever and I still couldn't hold water down- sure signs that I shouldn't be headed to school in the morning.

People get sick- especially new teachers who move to a new city full of slimy kids who have different immunities to different germs than you do back in your home state. It's time to ditch the adolescent belief of invincibility and realize that you may get really ill during the first year. If you do get a bit sick, but can still handle heading to school, I recommend taking some over-the-counter drugs, perhaps an Emergen-C, and digging in until it goes away. If you get very sick, think of your own well-being as well as your students' (they don't need to get whatever it is you have) and take a day off. I know I also get pretty crabby when I get sick. Today I was screaming and yelling as a result of some congestion, a headache and a bunch of students who were not in the mood to listen. That's not great for management in the long term, either.

Today's Wine: Chicken broth. I was feeling pretty awful at school today, personally.

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