In the Art Room

Home, sick.

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.


5 thoughts on “Home, sick.

  1. Love it!! Totaly felt the same way ~ starting to get over it! Even when you leave insultingly detailed lessons they still give students oil pastels instead of construction paper crayons or white paper instead of the black with a huge note it saying FOR 2nd GRADE. But I am goign to be out for a week in March to go to NAEA – I am going to work on the plans with my sub becasue I know he is art minded. Am looking forward to the collaboration! Thanks for your great blog!


  2. Hope by now you are kicking high:-)
    I was out the second week of school this year…had to go to Maine for my son, tough life, ya know?
    When I told my sub the plans for the week I'd be out…she said,” I can't see that being ART!” It was a plan that involved creating with dots. I had made it simple for her 'cause she is not art minded…obviously. She didn't do the plans at all. Oh well, I enjoyed Maine and my students were not scared. All my good drawing paper, however, was used to free draw. ahhhhh! Feel better soon!


  3. I don't like being sick because then my plans are all off for each class. I really hate coming back and my room is a mess and the kids are all behind because the sub didn't do what I'd asked. If they aren't in the middle of a project, then I wouldn't care if the sub did her own thing. But when they are in the middle of a project.. ahhh!!! Just follow my crazy, detailed 4 page lesson plans that I took 3 hours while sick in bed to write!


  4. I'm a pretty new art teacher and I worked as a sub prior to teaching too. I don't like staying home sick because I hate making sub plans. I almost always make mine a real art lesson and make them ultra-detailed so in case I get a sub who is threatened by teaching art, they will feel comfortable. Of course, some lessons just have to be taught by the art teacher, and then if I'm sick or gone it messes up my schedule, which I hate too!!! Let's just try to stay healthy (and not have any district scheduled trainings during art class!). Sorry you were sick, hope it was short-lived.


  5. I’m also over it. If I ‘m sick, I’m sick. I did come back a day earlier than I should have this year from a stomach virus because I had a talent show to emcee. I wasn’t really sick, but I was weak from not eating for 2 days and being in bed for 48 hours straight. I don’t feel bad for my students any longer because things go ok. The subs are fellow teachers at my school and they are competent and want things to go well for my students while I’m out. I do feel a bit bad for them for having to give up a planning to sub for me. I do it too, though.


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