Happy Monday, teacher friends! I’m feeling especially grateful today…for my job, my children, life in general. Here’s a feel good post that I hope many of you can relate to.
The dance recitals, the soccer games, and all the practices in between. The school plays and award assemblies. The art shows and sleepovers. When those little faces turn to look for mom in the audience and you’re there, beaming and cheering Every. Single. Time. As a teacher, our work schedule almost always matches their school schedule, and there’s not much that we have to miss out on. Bonus for teaching in the same school as your children…You get to share in even more memorable experiences!
There’s a saying, especially with small children. that “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m so grateful to spend my Snow Days snuggled up at home with my babies. Not to mention days full of swimming, bubbles, and snow cones all summer long. The older my children get, the more fun we have together, and I know that one day, all these little moments together will have become the big moments.
By experiencing the “life of a teacher,” we show and teach our own children selflessness, compassion, commitment, and responsibility. Our children watch the countless hours that we devote to our “other kids” in our classrooms, learning the value of service and dedication. They learn to put others before themselves. They learn that hard work often has no rewards tied to it. All too often they, by some miracle, even decide that they want to follow in our footsteps. I can’t think of a better profession that serves to shape my children’s character.
Let’s face it. Sometimes you just have to find a way to make it through the day. This goes for parenting AND teaching. Children are going to push buttons and run you ragged some days, and most experienced teachers know that choosing your battles will, in the end, save your energy and sanity. When in survival mode, you have to look at the big picture, finding a way to balance your “teacher hat” and “mom hat” so that you have enough patience left for both.
My daughter is now old enough now to help me stick dozens of tiny labels on folders and organize boxes full of school supplies. I have fantasies of her cutting out lamination and putting up bulletin boards one day! Oh, the joy! I know that down the road, she might decide that being mom’s “teacher slave” isn’t so awesome anymore, but for now I’m just gonna pretend that day will never come. We need ALL the help we get to manage the constant ticking to-do list in our classrooms!
I’ve always made a huge effort to establish and maintain strong relationships with my students’ parents, but something about becoming a parent changed everything. I truly grasped the understanding that most parents are genuinely doing the very BEST they can with what they have for their children. They are their children’s biggest advocates and fans. They are not (for the most part) against us. In fact, most parents view their child’s teachers as a form of superhero. They trust us to care for their most VALUABLE possession every day. Becoming a parent changed my conversations with parents as I gained more experience with developmental behaviors and abilities. It helped me to empathize with home expectations on top of busy evenings and weekends. It helped me relate to all those powerful “mama bear” feelings that can overwhelm us sometimes. Becoming a teacher has made me a better momma, and becoming a momma has made me a better teacher.
Teachers know that a literacy-rich environment is CRITICAL for early literacy development, and that doesn’t just apply to the classroom! Both of my children have literally been swimming in books since they were newborns, with magnetic letters strewn across the fridge and foam letters lining the bathtub. They have their own bookshelves in their bedrooms that are chocked full of finds from used book stores or library discards. I have a ton of books that I scored using my saved up Scholastic Bonus Points. Children learn to be readers on the laps of their parents, y’all!
Don’t lie. You know you’ve worked your kids over with some “if…then” rewards or consequences more than a few times in Target or the grocery store. You know exactly what’s motivating for children, and that applies to ALL children! You also know the importance of following through with consequences IMMEDIATELY, or the effect is often lost. You know that praising the specific action is more powerful than praising the child. You know that “I statements” are the best way to share feelings. When you think about it, teachers are very well-equipped with the most effective “ammo” for parenting. Use it with pride!
You know exactly what I’m talking about. Teachers have the ability to read aloud a story with a multitude of lively voices, praise a child with most sugary-sweet, good fairy-like kindness, and grasp their undivided attention with a carefully articulated whisper. We also can convey disappointment or frustration with an incredible sense calmness and respect. These skills are just as (or even more so) effective at home. My husband likes to tease me when I’m “using the teacher voice again.”
And while we’re on the subject, the teacher “look” is pretty much just as powerful as the teacher “voice.” The eyes are a VERY powerful teaching and parenting tool! I use it to keep my daughter in line during church almost every week.
My classroom has become somewhat of a free theme park for my daughter, full of blocks and markers and bear counters and Legos and a Smart Board and countless other learning “toys” at her fingertips This definitely makes working in my classroom more manageable, as she is constantly entertained and begs to go with me on work days. I’m pretty sure her dad’s office isn’t nearly as fun as mom’s classroom!
I’m by no means a perfect momma OR a perfect teacher, but there’s no place else I’d rather be.
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