Saying "No" in Order to Preserve Your Precious Time: The Sub CrisisA Mental Health Matters Moment for Teachers
By Jane Arouet
I don’t know about you, but for me it seems almost daily a Google spreadsheet is sent out from the building administrative assistant asking to please help out and sub on your prep today because so and so is out and there is no sub to fill the job - with a smiley face reminder that you will be paid.
And some days it is multiple teachers out with no subs to cover.
Now, IF you have the time and are WILLING to sub and would like the additional financial compensation, then you can stop reading right here.
But… if when you read this you start feeling the slightest bit guilty and feel like you should sub because it will help the school greatly and because the administrative assistant is such a nice person, and you’d love to help them out… stop for a second and really think about YOU first.
We all have been told over and over, if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re no good to anybody else. It's true.
People may think that subbing on your prep is no big deal because what, it’s only an hour or so, right? "Only an hour" when you have to try to jam in the ZILLIONS of things you need to do on a daily basis – lesson planning, looking over IEPs, correcting, calling parents, answering emails, trying to figure out where to sign up for the last PD you attended and where the next one is, trying to figure out how to incorporate the latest technology into your lessons like you are being asked to do, etc., etc., etc.! And I DO mean etc.! (Lots of those “etc.’s” to come in later blog posts!)
Please DO NOT feel guilty saying “no.”
That is a precious hour or so of time for many, many teachers and if you lose that little time you have due to subbing, you may be worse off mentally for the rest of your classes and your family and friends later on in the day.
I know it's a hard situation to be in, but teachers need to prioritize their own mental health in order to better serve everyone - students and families included. And besides, substitute availability is ultimately a management issue. You are being helpful. If you can't help, that's OK.
Please remember to take care of YOU first. It is the most important thing you can do for yourself and others.