Sick Days


We’ve all been there. You wake up with a splitting headache. Or your stomach grumbles. You take your temperature and realize that you shouldn’t be present with your students.

Except for the fact that planning for a sick day can actually be worse than just going in sick! You’ll have to spend an hour writing down the dreaded sub plans, which the sub will only follow through the first period. Then he’ll get inventive. Plus, you’ll have so much to reteach when you return after you feel better. You should go in, shouldn’t you? But you probably shouldn’t? You decide to call in sick and stay in bed, but you feel guilty about it the rest of the day.

Don’t do that to yourself any longer! Try these tips for helping your students to accomplish more when you are not there:

Ask: “What will you do if I don’t show up?

Explain your goal. Explain what the learning process should look like, both when you are in the classroom and when you are not there. (HINT: It should look the same!) In a student-centered classroom, students hold the power over the learning process and the teacher helps facilitate. Be sure students know & understand this.

Model & Practice.

Be sure to dedicate plenty of time for students to learn and practice routines. Hold students to high expectations & focusing on modeling the types of behaviors you would like to see from them. The goal of practicing routines ad nauseam is to create self-motivated, self-sufficient learners.

Support Student Ownership & Empowerment.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is classroom culture. You will need to  constantly provide opportunities for students to lead and take responsibility for what happens in the classroom. If something goes wrong for a student, don’t instantly solve the problem for them. Get used to asking “How will you fix it?” 

Write your Sub Plans for Students.

Writing your plans for students allows them to have clear expectations as to why they should be taking ownership of their learning. It puts them in the driver’s seat. If your classroom runs this way when you are there, students will make an easy transition when you are gone. Provide students (and the sub) with a list of meaningful activities they should be working on.

Don’t Feel Guilty about Being Out.

You should be able to miss a day because you are sick, have a personal commitment required during school hours, or were “voluntold” to attend a district training. Don’t feel guilty about missing time with your students. Embrace the fact that you will miss time in the classroom, and let students embrace the chance to prove themselves when you aren’t there.




For more ideas and resources to become an exceptional teacher, pick up a copy of The SECRET SAUCE: Essential Ingredients for Exceptional Teaching today!


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