Coming back to work may sometimes not be easy, especially when it comes to teachers, who in summer have the opportunity to forget about the problems which will be waiting for them in the new school year. However, this text is referred to all those of you who don’t know when to say it’s time to go, and sometimes it’s really not a bad idea.
Will it be then a text of a depressed person? Why should you know when it’s time to go? Of course, it won’t be anything like that! I come from a family, in which we go to work to the last, until we simply can’t. No matter whether we have a runny nose, or a strong cough, or the way we feel sucks a big time. As we say what youth is used to, age remembers. I must admit that, there’s something in this saying, and at least in my case it’s applied well.
Since I started working for the state schools, which was exactly 6 years ago, I was on the doctor’s leave twice, oh sorry … now the situation has changed a little bit, as my organism has also given out. Does it mean that I’m indestructible? Maybe I’m a woman of steel? I regret to say that, but no. I was brought up in a way that I feel guilty when I need to miss work due to illness. It has happened many times that I treated common cold and cough for three weeks, and having fever in the evening, but waking up without raised temperature in the morning, I decided to go to work anyway. I also went through blurred vision, when the light in the classroom was purple and I saw the kids as if they had been under the surface of the water. It was quite silly, as not staying in bed when you suffer from flu or cold may have a detrimental effect on your body. Unfortunately, as long as we are not struck by something for good, we count on dumb luck or we hope a given problem won’t concern us. As I’ve already mentioned, I was twice on the doctor’s leave until now, when I had a high fever at work and I decided it was high time to take care of myself, and once when I had chickenpox, which I couldn’t ignore. Last week my voice stopped working well, and to some extent it was caused by not a very wise change in Polish education system. Secondary schools accepted mass amounts of graduates from both primary schools and junior high schools at the same. The classrooms are overloaded, the lessons last until late afternoon, and after reaching my home I need to prepare myself to work. No one will tell me, as many people think, that teachers work 18 hours per week, as there’s nothing more deceptive. It’s a kind of work you can never get out of. Since the beginning of the new school year is usually quite intensive, unfortunately it happened that I didn’t sleep long enough, not to talk about resting after work. My organism, when it’s overloaded, becomes prone to all kinds of illnesses and infections. I’m not able to cope with them at that time, and what surprises me the most, during summer, when it happens that sometimes I get cold, my body is rested and strong enough to overcome everything on its own.
As I’ve mentioned before my voice stopped working well last week, and it’s the main tool of work for me. It started gradually, however the workload occurred to be so big, that I got hoarse for good. That’s why, waking up one morning and not being able to say a word, I finally decided to go to the doctor. Of course, in my case it wasn’t the end of the whole story. I went to check into the doctor, getting up early in the morning, unfortunately the first available visit was possible after 10 am, and I started lessons a little bit earlier, to make matters worse my day at work was supposed to last till late afternoon. Having no choice, I called the office to report my indisposition, which was difficult to hide via the phone, as my voice sounded at least like after a good boozy party. I was patiently waiting for the hour of my visit at the doctor’s, suffering agony, imagining that I won’t get the doctor’s leave, as I wasn’t dying yet. Maybe, I could still say something in the classroom. I was testing my voice, making strange sounds similar to the ones produced by not well tuned violins. I had a fear of not getting my doctor’s leave to such an extent that I even didn’t drink warm tea in the morning, as the tea would make me speak with beautiful and crystal voice again. So it turned out that at 10 am I didn’t get my voice back and I wasn’t healed in a miraculous way, just on the contrary, I had to whisper, so that my doctor could understand anything. In my small, yet smart head, I figured it out that I’d get 2 days at most plus weekend and since Monday I’d be a marvelous teacher again, straining my voice at work. I was really surprised with the fact that I got a much longer leave which was supposed to last the whole week. I was diagnosed and it turned out that I had laryngitis. The warmth of my home, peace and quiet, as well as not straining my voice did real miracles, and all in all, I could speak freely again next day in the afternoon. Of course, I started feeling guilty, as I was not dying, and I had a few more days to stay at home left. Luckily, as I have already mentioned before, I’m not a totally brainless person, sometimes I even experience some moments of enlightenment, sparse, but quite spectacular. I was struck with such a thought: ‘Natalia, you can speak only because you are resting your voice now. Otherwise you would strain it even more, not to compare it with using old socks, which should be thrown away a long time ago.’
Remember that everyone can be replaced. One day you will be fired or what’s even worse you’ll simply leave this world and you’ll be quickly forgotten at work. If you think differently, many of you are mistaken. No one will appreciate your work more, because you decided to come to your office despite the fact that you are ill. You’ll also not get the Nobel Prize for sure. So my question sounds as follows: is it really worth it? Without health there’s no work, no life, that’s why you need to respect it. Because of this article I keep humming a song by Agnieszka Chylińska, which I’d like to quote as a way of summing up my today’s text:
‘When I know it’s time to go
And I know it will happen soon
When I want to leave this world
Then I know, I won’t wait for you, no
I’ll leave in silence, like I want
And I’m sure you won’t be around
Nobody will remember me
And I know that I’ll be all alone (…)’
See you around!
Photos by: Photo by Yuris AlhumaydyNaomi August, Christian Fregnan, howling red, Natalia Figueredo, Gabriel on Unsplash
Comments: 19 replies added
I keep hearing how tough it is to be a teacher these days. Many are leaving, which is sad. They should be treated better and given so much more money.
I agree with Amber! We need more teachers who love their work and are given what they do even at the monetary level!
Being a teacher is a tough choice. I guess teaching is a profession that needs someone who is passionate about teaching and handling kids.
As I was going through your post I remembered recent stats that say teachers work the least a week but have the highest rate of stress. My dad is a retd. teacher and I have seen him how stressful his life can be. But who cares? Love that you brought the issue to the world.
I admire teachers. It is a tough job but the rewards to see a child learn is worth it.
It is tough being a teacher but it is worse when you feel guilty when you are not well. When you become ill it is your body's way of telling you that you need to rest so you should listen to it.
the teaching profession is such the difficult job. but in the other hand its an art which polish the skills of students.
Self care is so important, and I'm a fan of making it a routine before your health takes a nosedive because you've put your needs aside far too often. Work/jobs come and go, but there is only one you. The workplace so rarely appreciates the sacrifices many make, and it's not worth it.
I think that as a teacher, when you have the flu you should stay home. You are not only risking your own health but the one to the children you are teaching as well. And why should you feel guilty for not going to work? It is your right as a human being to take care first of yourself and make sure you are healthy before worrying about something else.
My daughter is a teacher and it is a very hard job. She teaches first grade and I admire her for all her hard work
I have seen a lot of teachers give so much of themselves to schools. Sometimes teachers need self care days whether feeling sick or tired and it's understandable since you guys work so hard. I don't think you should feel guilty. Your body was overworked and needed time to rest. Always remember to take care of yourself and make sure you're healthy so that you can keep teaching. You've got this!
There is such a stigma around staying home when you are sick, when in reality, you are much better off taking the time off to let your body heal. No work is worth letting your health suffer. At the end of the day, it is our experiences we will remember, not how many days we did or not work.
Once upon a time I wanted to be a teacher but I didn't think that I would be strong enough to get through it. Teachers give so much and definitely don't get enough in return.
My sister is a teacher, and it is such a tough job. While I'm not a teacher, sometimes I feel it is time to go when it comes to my own job.
I am not a teacher, but I can definitely relate to the depression and fatigue!
A lot of teachers nowadays are not really that much passionate about there work anymore and it saddens me. Teacher is not easy and I hope they get appreciated more on their hard work.
Glad to hear you were able to rest and your voice came back! I went through a similar thing last year. I kept loosing my voice on an off and come to find out being stressed can bring that on.
Yes, having a job is important because it pays the bills and one must respect it; however, one must never place a job above his or her physical and mental health.
So true, we need to take care of ourselves and our body because no one else is going to. I'm guilty of going to work when I'm not feeling well to.