Perfect Attendance

10 Jul

As long as I’ve been teaching (off and on since 1987) I’ve had several years when I did not miss a single day of work.  And I don’t remember EVER missing more than two.  When I was teaching at the private school, the Headmaster publicly recognized those of us who didn’t miss a day.  In a faculty of 35, there were only two of us, and the other guy hadn’t missed a day in 20 years.  That happened 2 years in a row.  Of course, there was no other compensation offered.


When working for the county at the state mental hospital, I had 2 or 3 years of perfect attendance.  This time, I was invited to attend the school board meeting and I got a nice certificate.  And that was the last time I had perfect attendance for several years as I was in the midst of starting a family.  Most of the days missed were for various surgeries my wife had, since she was able to take care of the kids for the most part. 


Here in Magnolia County, they do offer compensation for perfect attendance.  I got a check for over $300 the other day, and that’s the only thing I can think it would be for.  There was no letter or certificate or anything indicating what this was for, which is just the way they do it here.  And the check is very nice, make no mistake!  They do offer around $150 for only missing one day, which I’ve gotten a couple of times.  I usually just sign the check and give it to Jane since I really could not do it without her.  She’s the one who tends to the kids when they’re sick and runs them to their appointments and picks them up from school if needed.  This allows me to concentrate on my work.


But there is also something to be said for planning around the various breaks we have.  My paras, colleagues and peers seem to be either unwilling or unable to exercise that concept.  Dollars to donuts, I’m going to be short some paras during the first 2 weeks of school for some business that could have and should have been handled over the summer.  For instance, Princess and Queen (and possibly Patience) will have to get tbeir physicals in order to drive our bus.  I’m getting mine the week before preplanning.  They ALL know they need this and they need to do it every year.  But they won’t do it, and will wait until school starts in order to take time off from work to do it.  The school already pays for it, why not do it beforehand?


I think doctor’s appointments are my biggest pet peeves.  We have weeks and weeks of NO work where this stuff could be scheduled, but they insist on doing it during work days and work hours, even waiting until the week after break to schedule this stuff for them and their children.  It’s annoying, and puts everyone else off.  Why can’t they be more considerate, like Coach who waited until June to have his first child?


We get something like 9 sick days and 2 or 3 personal days a year which are able to be accumulated over the several years.  Those built up days can be used to retire early, if there are enough of them or cashed out.  I have 65 or so days stored up, that I know of.  I don’t keep that close track of them, but I know they are there if I need them.  I know several teachers and staff who had emergency situations where they had extended illnesses and ended up without any days.  So, they ended up losing pay at a time when they needed every dime they could get to pay medical bills! 


There are lots of reasons to show up to work everyday.  Consider the work that goes into planning for a substitute!  In my present position, I have a lot less of that, but for most teachers it is SUCH a huge undertaking to make all the work and then having to correct and grade it all.  It takes several days work to make up each missed day.


Another reason that I run into more often is my students punish me for being gone.  They tend to act out more and test me more.  Whether this is to actually punish me or it is because of a lackadaisical substitute who let things go, I can’t say.  In any case, it takes a day or two to get the kids straight after either a break or I’m out a day.  I still miss a lot of days for staff development and tons for doing other’s IEPs. 


I like routine and it really messes me up when I get out of my groove.  Missing a day gets me out.  Plus, the entire time I’m out my mind is still in the classroom, worrying about what is going on.  Crap happens when I’m out, and the anxiety rules over me when I’m worried about someone (student or staff) being hauled off in an ambulance!


A certain amount of fate or fortune has also helped me along in not missing many days over the years.  I simply do not get sick very often.  And when I do, it isn’t for more than a weekend.  The few times I’ve been laid up longer, it has been over a break.  Over the years, I have actually had students get irate at me for NOT missing more days.  Those are usually the same ones who punished me when I did!  EBD kids, bless their ambivalent hearts!


The recognition in the form of a certificate, or cash or even just being able to retire a year earlier is nice.  I like what I do and look forward to doing it most of the time.  The reward of that is pretty good and the rest is just gravy.



One Response to “Perfect Attendance”

  1. johnwillslloyd July 11, 2006 at 5:30 am #

    Nice account, Dick. This should be recommended reading for prospective teachers. I’ll pass it along to some colleagues.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: