Monday, June 23, 2014

I Did It for Me, So Why All the Guilt?

I hate missing days at school. I rarely call out. Sure, there is a random day I need to be home with one of my kids when they are sick, but I prefer to be in my classroom working with my students on a daily basis. I refuse to take vacations during the school year. In my opinion, vacations are to be taken when we have breaks in the calendar.

Twitter has helped me avoid leaving school for even Professional Development days or workshops. I try to convince my administration that I can get the same learning from participating in the numerous chats at night instead of missing a day of school. Actually, I find them a thousand times more informative than anything I have attended during school hours.

But, last week, I broke my own rule: I called out Thursday and Friday. The last two days of school.

See, my Grandfather died a week ago today. (Here is a link to his Eulogy that I wrote) We knew it was coming since he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer about six weeks ago. This did not make it easier to handle, however. I still attended our Dinner/Dance last week. This is a great event where our Eighth Graders get dressed up and have a great buffet dinner at a local catering hall. We have been holding this tradition for the last twelve years, and I am hopeful it is able to continue.

I was able to guide our students through Graduation practices and the actual ceremony last week as well. The Graduation Ceremony went off without a hitch. The graduates looked great in their blue and yellow gowns. We had several speakers and handed out special awards. There were smiles (and tears) all around.

Why am I feeling guilty? I missed saying goodbye to my students. I missed seeing them walk out our doors for the last time. I missed signing yearbooks and shaking their hands. I missed the pictures and the tears that usually accompany them. I would have loved to be there with them during their last couple of days, but I just could not do it. I tried talking myself into attending those days, but to no avail.

I hope they understand why I was not there. I hope they enjoyed their last couple of days. I would have given anything to be there with them, but I just could not go through with it. I wish them all the luck in the world. I hope they have a great high school career. I hope they remember what we taught them while they were with us. But, more importantly, I hope they hold onto the great memories they gathered over the years at our school. Best of luck, Class of 2014...



5 comments:

Starr Sackstein said...

Jim, I know how you feel. We take so much on. You had a right to not be at school, but you certainly don't need me to tell you that. The kids will understand. The kids will probably return for your signature and well wishes. They always do. Plus they can find you here and on social media and through email. I admire your commitment. Thanks for sharing...
Just to reiterate, you have no reason to feel guilty, but I totally understand

Jim Cordery said...

Thanks for your kind words, Starr. I battled with taking the days all week, but once Graduation was over, it felt okay to leave. I am hopeful they come back to visit. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

Keith Howell said...

Jim, thanks for sharing. We all feel guilty from time to time, that is what makes a great educator. It truly shows that we care; however, we cannot do it all. The key is finding balance and it seems like you have that. Sorry to hear about your loss and I am sure your students understand. Take care

jonharper70 said...

Jim you made the right decision. The day you begin to put your job ahead of your family is the day you lose some of yourself and some of what makes you great. Also, by doing what you did you give others the courage to do the same. I take personal days once in a while and I take off sometimes when my kids are sick. Just think of what you would've wanted one of your students to do. Just what you did. So you practiced what you preach. People first! Who needed you the most on those days? Your family, not your students. In all actuality, you didn't do it for you, you did it for who needed you most and that is why you are a great teacher, human being and will soon be an awesome administrator!

Dave Mulder said...

My friend, I love your heart! Thanks for sharing this story; I think we need to be honest about our burdens. And, I totally understand where you are coming from--I hate to miss school too. I think you made the right decision, Jim, and I think your students will (and do) understand.

Certainly, these words don't help to ease that guilty feeling...I know it all too well myself. But know that there are countless others, passionate teachers who struggle the same way you are in this situation, because we care so deeply about our students.

My condolences to you and your family. Peace to you, my friend.