I used to feel immense guilt about staying home from work when sick. I used to think that my absence would create irrecoverable damage to my students when they discovered that their beloved art teacher was out. I used to think that the classroom teachers would be concerned and worried and wonder all day if the art teacher, who is never sick, was on her death bed.
I would drag myself out of the warm comforts of my bed, force myself into a scalding shower, and drive, in a fuzzy daze, into work where I would be only vaguely aware of the happenings around me and the comings and goings of my various classes.
And then I realized that no one really gave a shit. The students’ day still went on as usual, even with a sub for art. The teachers barely thought twice about it, as they didn’t care who taught their students art, just as long as there was someone there to give them the hour break they deserved. In fact, the only person affected my by absence, besides me, was the substitute.
I’ve worked as a substitute teacher for years, so I’m very sympathetic to the subs that come in for me. I try to leave sub plans that are as thorough as possible, outlining all my duties, the location of all art supplies, which students will be helpful, and where my chocolate stash is located. Which is probably why it takes me three hours to write sub plans.
When I write sub plans, I always assume the worst and expect the least from everyone, sub and students alike. Even my best behaved class become little beings of evil. I leave detailed explanations of all classroom procedures. I leave overly specific step-by-step lesson instructions. I leave back-up lessons in case the sub isn’t art familiar and isn’t comfortable teaching the art lesson I have left. And then, at the end of my plans, I let the sub know that it is okay if they totally disregard the plans and classroom procedures to teach and run the classroom in a way that he/she feels most comfortable with.
Why do I do this? Because every now and again you get a fantastic sub who finds the detailed plans deeming and an insult to their capabilities. I know this, because I often felt like this sub. Especially in the art room. There was nothing more insulting than showing up and teaching a lesson (or showing a *gasp* video) that was obviously busy work. But as a sub, you’re expected to follow the plans left for you. There were many times when I longed for this little, handwritten note, on the bottom of the sub plans, “Or, if you’re art minded, feel free to teach any lesson you have in your arsenal of lessons you keep stored in that competent brain of yours.”
All this being said, I was in such a congested haze last night when writing my sub plans for today that I’m pretty sure my sub will find my plans either a) demeaning b) seriously lacking or c) a rambling, incoherent, 3-paged document that was obviously written by a crazy woman afflicted with fever and a touch of delirium.