I recently became the victim of an illness that will be known around my house for many years to come as “that time we all got sick and Daddy tried so hard not to…but it didn’t work at all for him” or “the doozy” for short.
I have yet to meet any educator that gets any pleasure out of missing school. Any educator will tell you that there’s a fine line between it becoming more work and stress to miss school than to just muscle through. Still, there are times that muscling through will not suffice. Administrators suffer the same fates as classroom educators in that the workload can back up just being out an hour let alone a day or days in a row.
This past week my hand was forced and I had no choice but to take the time I needed to get back on my feet….literally. And through that time I was able to glean some things that can make absence a little more successful for an educational leader.
- Build Capacity for When You Need It – I’m lucky to have a group of people that I work with that can handle multiple things that come their way in my absence. It’s a true comfort to know that as I lay at home trying to make a cocoon out of my hooded sweatshirt someone is able to handle the “crisis” and challenges that are popping up at school. This capacity was built over many years and pays off not only on the days that you’re absent but all days.
- Have a Designated Filter – Generally people are pretty good at knowing when I’m out it’s for a good reason and they only reach out for the things that they know I should absolutely be involved in…but when there’s a questionable item everyone knows that they can check in with a few folks prior to calling me at home in the middle of a fever induced nap!
- Try Your Best To Stay Afloat with Communications – I know, I know…I’m a fan of take all the time you need to rest and do it right, but I’m also a fan of not returning to over three hundred emails. That would do nothing to aid my recovery. Generally I’m able to keep up with email communications while I’m out. If anything, it’s a great indicator of how things are going at school. Even small snippets and responses let people know that you’re still in the game and trying to support them the best you can while trying to keep your tear filled eyes open to that screen.
- Don’t Share The Wealth – This is a hard one…as most of us are in a rush to get back to school, but no one really wants to enjoy the germs that kept you out for the last couple of days. As you are starting to recover and you’re on the question mark day (do I go back, or stay home another day) stay home…set up a few key meetings via Google Hangout, try to hammer out some of those to do list items that you never seem to get to during the days that you’re at school, etc.
- Communicate With Your Boss – Let your superintendent know what’s going on. Be honest, let them know how you are keeping up with things and ask them to stop in at your school if they can. They’re there to support you and your school, but need to know what’s going on.
- Have a Recovery Plan – Think about your transition back. Focus on getting your mind and body healthy. Think about the day you return…how can you make it doable? The worst thing you could do is get re-sick…that just stinks.
On the eve of my return to school I’m feeling fairly ready for the return, having done all of the above. I know I’m going to be exhausted by the end of the day but I’m definitely on the right track.