Teacher FOMO, or Why Taking Days Off Kind of Stinks

Yesterday was the first day, other than a snow day, when I missed a whole day of school.

When it’s a snow day, everyone is out. You aren’t missing anything by boppin’ around at home. But when you take a sick day or a personal day, the school goes on without you.

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.” It’s when you become anxious that you’re missing something cool or interesting, exacerbated by seeing posts about it on social media. And, let’s be clear, I am experiencing some FOMO: I scheduled this personal day long before I knew our school had booked COSI on Wheels.So I definitely am missing something cool.

But, I think for teachers like me, it’s more of a fear of… not having control. Don’t get me wrong, I want everything to go smoothly for my sub, my students, and my coworkers. But I’ve got my classroom running just how I like it, normally. Will my sub know what to do if the computers don’t cooperate? Will the students behave for the sub? Will my colleagues be able to print the one set of reports I apparently forgot to print? (That last one is still a little fresh.)

So the desire is there for everything to run smoothly. And yet, I still have… an issue. What if everything goes too smoothly without me? What if they realize that they don’t need me to do all the things I do? What if they realize they don’t need anyone doing my job at all? (Why doesn’t impostor syndrome leave me alone already?)

There are countless memes about why it stinks to take a sick day when you’re a teacher: more work to make lesson plans, or more paperwork when you come back. Personal days feel more selfish, but at least you’re not trying to explain your blended classroom to a possible stranger through a pounding headache, or other symptoms.

So yeah, does anyone else get a bad case of Teacher FOMO?

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