EducationPop Quiz

Pop Quiz – Separation Anxiety

I’m about to enter the wonderful and terrifying world of fatherhood and that means I’ll be on paternity leave soon. I get two weeks off when the baby’s born, which I’ll hopefully be able to tag onto the Christmas holidays. Obviously it’s a super-exciting time, but today I was struggling with the fact that I’ll have to leave work for all of my classes for the entire time that I’m off.


My school system means that I have five different classes, each of a different year group. They come at different times each day and they each spend a total of four periods in English per week (six for my senior class). That adds up to quite a lot of work to prepare in advance.


I’m hoping that the school is going to get in a supply teacher for the entire fortnight so that my classes have some consistency, but it may well end up being the case that a different random person gets sent to cover every single individual class period. I absolutely can’t rely on my classes having an actual English teacher for the two weeks – this might happen, but it might not.


Do I leave easy-to-organise-but-really-dull textbook work? That would take no time at all to prepare but I’d be consigning my classes to two weeks of boredom. Do I provide detailed and important written tasks that might well end up half done (or not done at all) if the supply teacher isn’t strict enough? It’s bad enough leaving work to cover a one-day absence and finding that none of it’s been done properly. If I leave something important and it ends up not being done properly, I’ll probably have to teach it again.


I can’t leave anything that absolutely requires a subject specialist teacher, so does that mean that I’m essentially forced to leave revision work based on older topics? My weekend task is to work out what I’m going to leave for each class and how I’m going to ensure that my students work positively and productively when I’m absent.


For today’s Pop Quiz, I’d like to ask about your own approaches to pre-planned absence.


Does your school or college require you to provide detailed work for your classes when you know you’re going to be off?


Have you ever had to provide work to “keep your classes going” in your absence? What kind of tasks did you leave?


Have you ever covered the classes of an absent colleague? If so, had they left enough information for you to work with?


The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the afternoon (ET).

Featured Image Credit: Denise Krebs

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Alasdair is a high school English teacher in Scotland. He's a passionate skeptic and science fan, which is why he runs a discussion club for young skeptics in his school. He loves space and astronomy more than pretty much anything and is studying for a physics degree in his spare time in order to become qualified to teach science.

He lives with a cat made of distilled hatred and spikes.

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