I was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and started chemo this month. To say it’s thrown me for a loop is an understatement. I’ll save you all the drama about first and second opinions, but please know, YOU NEED TO GET A SECOND OPINION. My first course of suggested treatment would have left me with a completely different quality of life compared with the second course of suggested treatment. I have the love and support of my family and friends so I know I’ll be fine. That’s not my worry-it’s my students. I know I should focus on myself right now, but holding on to as much normal as possible is helping me handle this journey the best way I know how.
The plan is to take off Thursdays and Fridays every other week for chemo. I’ll have four days off and should be back in my classroom the following Monday. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see if I can hold on to it. I have about 90 days in my sick bank, so I’m not worried about that, and I have good insurance through the NYC Board of Education (thanks UFT.) I also have the support of my administration and colleagues in my building so that’s a comfort too.
What I didn’t have was a plan for my students. What would they work on all those days I won’t be in class? I didn’t want to leave them with word searches and boring worksheets, it’s going to be a lot of days until this is over. Here’s where EVERFI steps in. EVERFI is online learning modules that students can work on independently. The modules I use are Character Playbook and Ignition. The Character Playbook deals with skills that middle school kids need to communicate with their peers and understand the emotions they are experiencing. Ignition teaches all digital literacy skills from balancing your social media life to protecting yourself online. I can inform my students the day before of what they will work on while I’m gone, and then they know that the work is relevant and they’re accountable.
So I will be teaching with cancer. It will be temporary, and I will get better. The less I have to worry about the better off I’ll be. So thank you to my family, friends, colleagues, and EVERFI. Team Lennon is assembled and ready for this challenge.