Teacher Sick Day? GASP!

February 26, 2015
Sick. Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov (Creative Commons, Attibution)

Sick. Photo by Leonid Mamchenkov (Creative Commons, Attibution)

This is not my usual topic for a post, but it’s an education opinion piece.

I was recently sick—but am not teaching this semester. (Note: This is not a picture of me sick: first clue, I’m female. 😉 ). I remembered my K-12 teaching days and how I sweated over whether or not to take a sick day.

I tried to find some tips for teachers to support them when they are sick & really should take a day off. Yes, this situation does actually occur: teachers, in schools with oodles of germy students, are not superhuman and do indeed get sick themselves. Sometimes they get seriously ill. Teachers (and other workers in other jobs) have allotted sick days because it’s a fact: we all know people get sick.

I admit I was a bit disgusted to see that most of what rose to the top in Google results were allusions to teachers using sick days indiscriminately or for a “day off” to miss work. There were even statistics that say that teachers take a disproportionate amount of Fridays & Mondays off. (Hey, my doctor’s office is often overrun on Mondays with sick people. Any correlations?)

In one article, a teacher reported how the school administration sent around an email stating that students sick with vomiting or diarrhea should stay home for 2 days before returning to school–but same standard was not in place for teachers.

Another teacher pointed out how much work is involved in staying home–arranging a substitute/teacher-on-call, creating some lesson plans, dealing with whatever other outfall then and upon your return. He then prided himself on only ever taking 2 sick days in XX years of teaching.

Do people abuse the system? I’m sure like every system there are abusers, but teachers do get legitimately sick and rather than coming into school, spreading their illness and extending their time required to get better, they need to take a sick day and visit the doctor.

So, if you are sick and should stay home or in bed— Teacher, take a sick day.


Professionalism & Web 2.0

June 22, 2009

It’s posts like this from Digital Education, “Teachers banned from Twitter after indescreet tweet” that get me concerned about the lack of professional development around web 2.0 technologies for teachers.  If you’re not familiar with the situation, a Scottish teacher known as a tech leader in a rural district tweeted , “Have three Asperger’s boys in S1 class: never a dull moment! Always offer an interesting take on things”. This caused a ruckus with the district & community. Read the Guardian article for more detail here.  So what does the district do but BAN the use of twitter & blogging by teachers although they may access other teachers blogs, etc.  It is my belief that there are a significant number of teachers and educational professionals using social networking tools, who don’t have a solid grasp re. how social networking services replicate information–so that you can only delete your original but the replicants are still out there–or the reasons why they should separate their professional & personal social networking identities. Often many do not understand the permanency of electronic communication until it is too late and their careers are impacted.

Here was my response to the Digital Education post, “No Tweets for Scottish Teachers.”

Are teachers allowed to discuss their work? Of course. That said we have a professional responsibility to protect the best interests of the students under our care.


From the Guardian article it appears that the teacher identified the students as being hers, being in her S1 class, & having the specific condition. The article also states that she is in a rural community. Now if it’s like our rural districts here in Canada, that type of description would not meet ethical human research standards–as it is likely I could readily identify the students from the given information.


There is also a comment in the article that the teacher only “sent to people she regarded as personal friends”. Was her Twitter account public or private? If public, anyone logging on to the internet page with that teacher’s account name would see the information–and if the teacher completed an online public profile–those students could be identified without too much difficulty. Was it sent as a DM (direct message) to those “others” with an expectation of privacy or not? If not, the others could RT (retweet) the message–and anyone following the “others” would see it and could then similarly RT it. If it was a DM–everyone who uses direct messaging needs to understand (in any social networking or collaborative software)–those only have an “expectation” of privacy. Anyone could cut and paste that DM content into a tweet and repost it–not ethically perhaps but not everyone is ethical 100% of the time. Once those messages enter the twittersphere–or any social networking application that allows replication & transmission of content–there is no going back. You can delete your contribution–but if it has been replicated by anyone on your network–you no longer have control of that piece.


All users of social networking–teachers, students, parents, administrators–need to know how the software works so that they can consciously use it to support student & professional development. What we need is more professional development around web 2.0 tools so people can use them in a conscious and informed professional manner–not prohibitions. I have seen several mistakes by professionals like this likely well-intentioned teacher simply because they didn’t understand HOW social networking works and what the ramifications might be re. content posted there. I have begun to develop & deliver workshops on Digital Footprints for educators and students alike for this very reason. If you are interested contact me. Happy to share what I know.

Shifting Landscapes of ProD Wiki

June 22, 2009

Awhile back, Sylvia Currie asked if I might present a poster session with her & Betty Gilgoff at the Canadian e-Learning Conference in Vancouver in June 2009.  (Sylvia is  a consultant &  the Manager of Community Services with BCcampus Online.  Betty Gilgoff is the Inservice Faculty Associate for Field Programs at Simon Fraser University. ) Unfortunately, due to various commitments I was unable to attend in person but was able to contribute to their Wiki for the session.

Please take a look at our wiki, “Shifting Landscapes of Professional Learning” http://shiftinglandscapes.pbworks.com/

My section dealt with my journey of twitter adoption/use in conjunction with delicious:  “Using Twitter (and Delicious) for Professional Collaboration, Development, and Instruction”  http://shiftinglandscapes.pbworks.com/Using-Twitter-(and-Delicious)-for-Professional-Collaboration%2C-Development%2C-and-Instruction

Let us know what you think….

When Twitter Just Wasn’t Enough: StatsCan Resources

May 14, 2009

Here I am.  StatsCan resources had just more than I could tweet–& 140 characters was not up to the task.

StatsCan has some fabulous resources for Canadian history & social studeis teachers & students. Here is an excerpt from their email newsletter about the Historical version of the Canada Year Book & resources by age groups:

“Canada Year Book is available free on the Internet in the Canada Year Book (CYB) Historical Collection
The Teachers’ toolbox which accompanies the CYB Historical Collection offers theme-based lesson plans
that support curriculum in history and social studies. Specially designed lessons for intermediate and secondary
grade levels will help students to develop critical thinking skills and interpret original source documents.
Lessons cover:
• Changing families and households Intermediate Secondary
• Lives of men and women Intermediate Secondary
• Occupations Intermediate Secondary
• Economic gains Intermediate Secondary
• The Great Depression Intermediate Secondary
• Communications Intermediate Secondary
• Ethnocultural diversity Intermediate Secondary
• Provinces and manufacturing Intermediate Secondary
• Immigration and emigration Intermediate Secondary

StatsCan Consultants Help Educators for FREE!

May 14, 2009

From the StatsCan Website of the Week 6/5/08

“Ask one of the five StatCan education fulltime regional representatives across the
country, who offer these free services:

• one-on-one telephone/e-mail support
• workshops on StatCan resources at
professional development days and
conferences, or made-to-measure for your
school or district
• consultation with curriculum advisors and
textbook publishers
• articles for teacher newsletters and websites
To find your nearest representative, go to the Teacher’s page of Learning Resources,
under “Regional support” at http://www.statcan.ca/english/edu/reps-tea.htm.”