Generally speaking, sick days are something that I’ve heard about, but about which I know little. The life of an online adjunct is such that even if you’re sick, you need to find a way to work because, well, that’s what’s expected of you.
Most schools require a minimum of five days of participation during the week. One school I work for requires six days of participation — this is defined as posting and responding on the discussion board. Grading and posting grades do not count toward your participation in a course. It generally takes a minimum of two hours to read through all of the postings for a given day and to plan my responses to those posts. Most of the time, this works just fine and all is right with the world.
However, on a day like today, this would not work. I’m just grateful that we haven’t started the term yet. Today, Ben is sick. He is sniffly, coughing, congested, and generally not feeling well. He pretty much wants to eat and rest on the couch. Given that he’s really energetic, this is a little startling.
Katie didn’t eat much for breakfast and is back asleep now. She’s been cranky for the last day or so.
I have taken a Benedryl to try to forestall the worst of how I’m feeling. We’ll see if that works.
The thing is that students often argue that faculty don’t understand the pressures of balancing family life with school. I would argue that we are working from two sides of the same coin. My performance in the classroom is evaluated, just as their performance is, the difference is that the coin in my realm is continued employment, while they earn a grade.
So, what do I do when I’m faced with a sick day and it’s a day where I need to be productive?
- I check my email as soon as my eyes can focus and respond to any immediate concerns.
- I check the q and a areas in my course rooms looking for any problems.
- I make sure all sick parties have received necessary medications and are ensconced in their respective places with appropriate quiet entertainment. For Ben, that’s the couch under blankets with a cup of water, his lovey, a stuffed puppy, some books, and the Disney channel.
- I figure out a simple lunch that we will hopefully find palatable (did I mention that Ben is a super-picky eater?)
- I grade the minimum number of items to meet my “quota” for the day.
- I rest as much as possible (5 and 6 often conflict with each other).
Does this always work? Nope. Do I always try to make it work? Yes. It’s hardest when I’m the only one sick because Ben is really high energy. It’s more convenient if he and I are both sick at the same time. Sad that I look forward to those days, but that’s reality.