Staff sickness is a major headache for school leaders and managers. Having to find someone to stand in front of 30 eager bodies or even 15 reluctant ones, can be a very frustrating task. Finding someone who can keep them entertained can add to the pressures whilst actually teaching them something can prove to be impossible!
However, this post from Sarah ‘Stay or Go’ does highlight the dilemma staff are often faced with. You wake up with a sore throat, a temperature and an aching head. You would much rather stay curled up with your duvet away from the world.
The forthcoming school day however, has an important visitor arriving to see some work your class has been preparing for a while. You want to make sure it is all ready before the presentation. After school you have a meeting with a parent who you have tried to get hold of for most of the term to discuss their child’s behaviour and as it is a Wednesday, your part-time teaching assistant will not be there to hold the fort!
I know of many teachers, faced with this scenario who would drag themselves into school. They would dose themselves up with medication and hope that the children are feeling calm and prepared to get on with their work. However, should this be happening? Although the scenario ???? is a bit extreme ( not excessively so!) would anyone working in an office consider going to work?
Is it something special about those in teaching that makes it a ‘no-brainer’ that they will be in school? Is it something about the leadership and management in schools that puts pressure on staff to always get in? Aside from these questions – should we allow people who are not physically fit to be in front of our young people?
I think I can hear lots of shouts of ‘No!’ to that last one. However, it is really tricky. If you work in an office, you could probably hideaway for the day. You can pace yourself according to how you are feeling. If you don’t go in, the work is likely to not get done until you go back. A class of children cannot be put in the ‘pending’tray!
Clearly we do not want folks who are really under par to be ‘performing’ all day. Going in for that day can result in a longer absence which presents an even bigger problem. It is also the case that sometimes those buttons in our classrooms can lift you and be the best medicine you can take.
So..what to do? What approach do you as an individual take? What approach do your schools take? Is there a register of staff attendance that is reviewed at regular intervals? Are teachers indispensable?