Teachers, for obvious reasons, don't get the typical "vacation" days. Though it can be frustrating that we always have to pay ridiculous prices to go away during school vacations, it makes sense that I not take off for Florida while my class just hangs out for a week.
Instead, we get what's called "personal days." In my district we get 3 per year and in Eric's they get 2. These do not carry over each year so if you don't use them you loose them. I don't know the exact statistics but I would guess that the majority of teachers do not use all of their personal days. This attitude is definitely encouraged by the districts which vary between a yearly reminder that personal days are for things you really can't do any other time like "closing on a house" (my principal's favorite example) and actually making specific rules about when you can take them, what they can be for etc.
I don't think I took a single personal day the first two years I taught, and since then I take an average of 1 a year. This year I might be setting an all-time record of 2 because Caroline is graduating on a Monday. Today I also took a personal day so we could leave earlier for our big Newport trip with Eric's family. Perhaps if I had known how many snow days we were going to have this January I may have not taken this day off, but you have to reserve days off in advance so, oh well.
So yeah, I have the day off, YEA. But just for fun, let's talk about what went into this particular day off...
It all began about a week ago when I realized how busy this week was going to be. I decided it would be best if I started writing my sub plans as soon as possible. In order to do that I had to do a rough sketch of my whole week so I'd know where the kids would be come Friday. After I finished that I started to write up my plans. By Saturday morning I had a rough sketch of what my kids would do today without me to teach them.
On Monday morning I started the process of getting the materials ready. I started with the arm strength draining process of writing on the easel (oh how much I wish I had a smartboard). I had to write the morning message, followed by a lesson for writing workshop, followed by visual cues of what to do during writing workshop, followed by the sound we'd be learning in reading workshop, followed by the reading workshop choices, followed by the math lesson on teen numbers, followed by the visual cues of what the kids will do independently during math, whew. I really need a smartboard. (oh by the way, this is what I have to write on the easel every day, not just when I'm out- it's worse on days when we have science in the afternoon, fortunately Friday is not one of those days). That's only the beginning of the prep. Then I had to go create a sheet on "About the Authors" for our writing time. Of course kindergartners can't read perfectly so I have to find a clip art picture to go with every question I want the kids to answer. Then I have to cut and paste that into a word document, organize it all, adapt it for some kids who need it, print out both versions. Now I have to create a sheet for the Teen Number search the kids will be doing in math. I don't think I need to really tell you every aspect of my plan, do I?
So Wednesday after I am finally released from a 3 hour long IEP meeting, I run through all the plans with my classroom assistant who is running the day today. I just want to take this moment to say how THANKFUL I am that I have someone I trust running my class and who knows and loves the kids. I know this will not last forever especially in this economy so I appreciate it while it lasts. Moving on. On Wednesday afternoon I thought all was ready.
Then yesterday comes, ANOTHER snow day. Obviously I anticipated this, which is why I had everything ready on Wednesday. But now I have a whole day to remember I forgot to give the poster to the child who will be Star of the Week next week, oh and did I put the schedule on the board? Where is the attendance folder? What if my special needs children don't get this About the Author concept? What if the rest of the class is calling out "What does this say?!" or "I need adult writing!" or "I don't know what my favorite book is!"
Nothing a little trip into school can't fix. So there I was, wandering around the school trying to find someone to let me in on a snow day. Twenty minutes and a little snow climbing later and I'm IN the building. An hour and about 7 e-mails to my classroom assistant later, things are set.
Fast forward to this morning. I feel like I should be at work, but I'm not. I'm thinking about what my kids are doing. I tell myself to go to yoga to calm down and actually enjoy my extra long weekend. Halfway through yoga I remember that I recently learned that a teacher can actually be sued if something happens when they are not at work (I don't know if you can WIN this lawsuit, I'm guessing no, but the fact that it can even happen is scary). Yeah, I'm calm right now... I swear.
(before you enroll me in therapy asap... writing this post made me feel a lot better haha).
Now off to Newport, will bring computer :)