Thursday, 22 May 2014



I took a day off yesterday. I wasn’t well. I wasn’t well Tuesday either, but I went in anyway. I found myself texting my staff (and my boss) apologising for being ill.

Bad isn’t it? I never have time off, and yet on the rare occasions I fall ill, I feel I have to apologise.

Here’s why...

If I don’t go in, my pupils have a BAD day. I feel guilty even saying it, but it’s true. I have wonderful and very capable support staff, who work really hard and who are great with the children, but when I’m not there the atmosphere changes. It’s partly me, partly just the autism.

“You’re not my teacher... you can fuck off!” sort of thing. But times a million.

They will all behave like animals if I am ever away, or on a course or whatever. They will be rude, spiteful and often violent, but they don’t do it if I’m there. Mainly just because of my presence alone – I don’t have to DO anything.  They just keep it together when I’m around, and if they can’t, they allow me to steer them through and talk them round.  I can calm them down, pretty fast. They don’t let other people get anywhere near that stage, once they’re angry.

But I’m not all “Ooh, get me. Check me out” about it. It’s not a good thing. It means I have THE GUILT if I’m ever off.

They will all have a bad day, my staff will have a horrendous day with all the children kicking off at once, and then they will all go home and take it out on their families. The pupils, this is, not the staff.

Though they might too, I don’t know.

So it gets to a point by which 25 or 30 people all have a horrendous day because I didn’t go in.

So I just go in. Even if I’m not well. And by the time you’ve got up to phone in sick, AND spent an hour writing your cover lessons for the day, you’d be at work anyway. It’s rarely worth it, especially when you add the fall-out to the occasion.

A friend who teaches next door, who has exactly the same with his class, put it this way:

“Me at 10% is better than someone else at 100%” and he hit that nail right on the head.

It’s easier to muddle through and do some slightly crappy, fun, lazy lessons to ensure the day runs smoothly, than to try and hand it over to someone else. Because YOU have to pick up all the pieces and hand out all the consequences and sanctions when you get back. It’s a nightmare.

You feel guilty; you know you’re setting up 30 people for a rough day and you know it will be carnage when you return.

So I rarely take a day off, but my throat hurts so much! Talking all day Tuesday destroyed it, and I couldn’t face it Wednesday. So I sent my cover notes, made my apologies to all concerned and a few people who weren’t but I felt guilty about, and I went back to sleep.

And I felt tons better- I wonder what happened in my absence?  We’re about to find out. I can pretty much guess though – it’s always the same pattern.

So yes – sorry about that, staff, pupils and parents.  Sorry you got kicked and spat at and abused because I didn’t come into work.

But if I got hit by a bus, you’d have to cope, so it’s probably worth practising.

You know the funny thing?  Next year, when these kids move up a class, my presence won’t mean a damn thing to them. And the kids coming up to my class, suddenly *they’ll* start responding only to me instead of their current teacher next door, and they'll start giving everyone else a rough ride.

Did I say funny?

I meant annoying. Sorry.

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