Teacher guilt is so real. Unless you’ve taught, it’s actually hard to describe. There are a million reasons to head into school when you’re not feeling well, from having to write sub plans to feeling worried about leaving your students with someone else for the day. What is worst is that teachers will go to extreme lengths to report to their duties, crawling into the school with a fever or the flu.
I think part of the teacher guilt comes into play because teachers LOVE what they do every day. As teachers, we want to be there. We want to show up. We want to greet our kids with a smile. We want to be there to know our students are working on the skills we know they need.
It’s okay to love what you do and still need a day off here and there. Actually, it’s not just okay; it’s healthy.
If you agree with these or think another teacher friend needs to hear it, please pass this message along. It’s important and it matters.
Even though you do not need any of these, here are ten reasons why it’s truly OKAY to take a sick day.
Your Mental Health Matters
I think it’s important to highlight mental health first and foremost. Whether you need a day to tend to your fever, or time just to time to clear your mind after a stressful couple of weeks, that’s okay. Both are 100% valid reasons. Sometimes, it’s easy to ignore mental health needs, but that shouldn’t be the way. Take care of yourself. And as always, if you need more support, find a therapist or counselor to help. You matter.
Spreading Germs Isn’t Cool
Even if you think you can handle coming to school with a fever or hacking cough, recognize that sharing your germs isn’t going to help anyone. It can, though, get other colleagues and kids infected, which isn’t fun. If you are that sick, keep those germs at home until you are better, please.
Rest Helps You Get Better Quicker
Rest is a strange thing. We all know we need it, but we don’t want to make the time for it. You might be able to drag yourself into school day after day feeling horrible for two weeks, when if you had just taken a sick day earlier on, you could have rested and recovered much quicker.
Your Role as a Parent Come First
If you are a parent, please know you have all of my admiration. Teacher-parents go above and beyond taking care of their classroom children through the day and their real children in the afternoon and night. With that said, your role as a parent in taking care of your children is so important. When your kids need you, they need you. And that’s okay.
Your Family Deserves the Best You
It’s true that many times you can make it through the day feeling horrible. However, by the time you get home, you’re beat. Your family is important and they deserve the best you. YOU deserve the best you. Taking a sick day can help you get there so you can get back on track to spending the time with them that you love.
Your Students Deserve the Best You
Let’s face it; A sick teacher isn’t on their game. I’ve experienced it myself many times. I had less tolerance for the small stuff. Your students deserve the best you. Taking a day when you need one truly does help you be the best you.
It Builds Flexibility In Your Students
I remember in my first year of teaching I was terrified to be out sick. I didn’t want to leave my students. They relied on me. It was then that a good colleague and friend taught me that kids can’t have everything perfect for them all the time. They have to learn how to cope with change, including when their teacher is out. You being out sick and taking time for yourself actually builds flexibility in your students, and that’s a good thing.
Your Colleagues Will Survive
If it’s not bad enough that as teachers we worry about our students, I know from experience that we also worry about our colleagues, too. The truth is that life goes on at school without you. Your substitute will find their way. To be honest, many subs are some of the most amazing educators doing a great job in a tough situation (let’s give them all the credit they deserve). Your other colleagues will be fine, too. School life goes on without you. It really does.
You Are Modeling Self-Care
Sometimes, in our society, self-care isn’t valued as much as it should be. We want our learners to value taking care of themselves, listening to their bodies, and focusing on their own mental and physical health needs. So, with that, we have to model it. Be up front with students and tell them that you were sick and needed a day to take care of yourself. It’s healthy. If you need another reminder of self-care, grab this free educator self-care poster to hang up!
You’re Not Indebted To Your Job
I saved this reason for last because I think we have all felt this way. As teachers, we LOVE our schools and classrooms dearly. We want to be there (even on the tough days!) And if we aren’t there, there’s a huge sense of guilt. Let’s be clear, though. You are not indebted to your job, classroom, school, or district. You are a valuable educator. One who matters. And your physical health and mental health matter.
If you love this message or feel a colleague needs to hear, please remember to pass it along. You matter. Your mental and physical health matters. You are an amazing educator. Take care of yourself because you deserve it.