Joshua B. Guild,

Joshua B. Guild,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Jan. 28 1998 3:30 AM

Joshua B. Guild,

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       I woke up around 4:30 this morning, head pounding, body shivering, drenched in sweat. When somebody overheard me sniffling yesterday and inquired as to whether I was coming down with something, I dismissed it as nothing. Apparently I was mistaken.
       I stayed in bed until 6:30, when I called my teaching partner, Robin, to tell her that I wouldn't be coming in today. We talked about what needed to happen in my classroom, she assured me that everything would be taken care of (she's great for that), and I retreated to the safe confines of my bed. While I was in no shape to go to school, deciding to stay home was not easy. For a teacher, coming in to school the day after a sub has been in your room can be a mini-nightmare. Invariably, the room has been left in utter chaos. There are "situations" to take care of--some of your best students have ended up in the office, while the usual "challenges" have been in rare form. Indeed, it is usually better just to suck it up and go in to work, rather than take a day off and then have to come in and deal with the aftermath of the substitute-teacher experience. Not today, however.
       It probably wasn't the best idea for me to take my car out to run some errands this morning, but I didn't have much choice. The temperature was hovering in the high 20s, so I certainly wasn't going to walk anywhere. I had to pick some things up at the store, make a deposit at the bank (so that my phone doesn't get shut off), and make other exciting stops. I bundled up with four layers of clothing. I was lucky to make it home without getting into an accident.
       The rest of the day was spent slipping in and out of a fitful sleep, alternating between extremes of body temperature. From time to time, I looked over at the stack of ungraded student work on my dining-room table. Just as the guilt started to kick in, I would roll over and put school out of my mind. Until I began to dream about Brownbear, the guinea pig, running loose in the hallway, the ferret attacking a first-grader, students holding the sub hostage.

Joshua B. Guild is a sixth-grade teacher at the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in Cambridge, Mass.