What could these two things have in common? Honestly, until a couple of weeks ago, I had never thought about the two together. But, here I am, almost three weeks post-op from foot surgery contemplating just this.
Acquiring a language is not like any other subject matter taught in schools (paraphrasing Bill VanPatten). It can look ‘messy’. In the beginning stages, there are struggles and good days. And, because everyone is different, the acquisition process does not look exactly the same for everyone. The same apparently goes for foot surgery. The healing process is different for everyone. And, little setbacks can change the course of recovery.
Because of the surgery, I was put on antibiotics to prevent infection. Up to that point, I had never had an allergic reaction to medication of any kind. Well, this time was different. I ended up having a fairly significant allergic reaction. That resulted in a trip to urgent care as well as steroid and antihistamine shots. The inflammation caused some issues with the surgical incisions and resulted in some delay in healing. My recovery has been a bit bumpier than I had anticipated.
Since I teach the Advanced Placement Spanish Language & Culture course at my school, I felt pressure (mostly in my own head) to return to work as quickly as possible with the AP exam quickly approaching in early May. I had the surgery on April 7, the day before spring break, in order to minimize my time absent. You might say I could have simply waited until after the AP exam or the summer to fix my painful foot issue (I do stand for a living). I generally am not great at putting myself first - most teachers tend to me ‘givers’. This time, I decided to take care of myself to improve my own quality of life long term. I also have two children of my own, and being a bit immobile in the summer would present a whole host of challenges. I had to consider my husband’s ability to take time off so I would have help at home early on. So, I strategically chose the date of my procedure.
I had initially thought of coming back to work the day we returned from break. Despite my doctor’s advice of taking at least one month off. My allergic reaction delayed that. I had agreed to present a technology workshop with a colleague the second day after break, so I didn’t want to let him down. I also didn’t want to not be there for my students who were gearing up for the AP exam.
As a general rule, I hate being out as a teacher, because it is usually more work to be absent than at school. I know many teachers who feel the same way. Luckily, technology and being a 1:1 school helped me stay connected to my students while being out. Thanks to MacBooks and Google, I was able to make screencasts with audio for my AP students to work with and then share them via Google Classroom. They were also able to record for me with these tools and Flipgrid. I loved seeing their videos - they seriously cheered me up as I was a touch frustrated having to be out for follow up appointments, etc.
For my ninth graders, I purchased several activities from Martina Bex’s teachers pay teachers store which provided compelling comprehensible input in the target language in my absence. It turns out my students would survive without me for a brief time (even though we all like to think we are irreplaceable). We are fortunate that we have so many resources to leave our students with worthwhile, comprehensible input when we need to be out.
Many of us teachers end up being out for health reasons, family leave, etc. I love teaching. I miss it when I am absent. And, having come back a bit soon, without being able to get around the way I normally do, has been interesting. I am a teacher who is constantly moving about the room. Right now I cannot do that. But, in a few weeks things should be closer to normal again. I just have to have some patience.
Just don’t tell my doctor I came back to work too soon.
High school Spanish teacher in NJ. Google for Education Certified Trainer. Always looking to try new things in my classes. Technology junkie.